Last night, a golden moon behind the silver birch with a platinum sky as I left my yoga teacher's studio.
Snow flurries from a grey sky all day. It's dark by 8 pm now. Radio says highs of 30-35 degrees. Ground frozen hard, and grass frozen white in the morning.
"Winter is coming" is the motto of the Starks of Winterfell. The traditions and yearly cycles that I live, and try to live, and intend to live, all revolve around this. Winter is coming. This is the time I am awaiting all year.
I garden for food and joy and connection, yes. But I garden for food to preserve to eat through the winter.
I (and by I, I mean I oversee, opine about, and occasionally help Darlin' Man) cut and chop and stack wood to keep us warm all winter.
I will raise livestock to feed us through the winter
My huskies await winter with all the joy in their snow-dog hearts and thrive when hitched to their people on skis on a snow covered trail.
I wildcraft herbs and berries for use all year, but specifically for the season when the dark and the cold and the constantly indoors-ness takes its toll on immune systems and spirits.
Gardens are dug in or pulled up, pots are emptied and stored, in preparation for the winter.
I have one more thing to do - make saurkraut out of the massive quantities of cabbage sitting in the fridge from the CSA storage share - and all my practical winter yearly winter prep chores will be done. I have freezer bags full of lingonberries, and a few stored blueberries and raspberries. I have canning jars of fruits waiting to be made into mid-winter pies. I have quarts upon quarts of soups in the freezer: borscht, parsnip caraway soup, turnip pear soup, salmon chowder, root vegetable stew, and potato leek soup waiting to be thawed and enjoyed by the fire. There is salmon and halibut the darlin' man caught, and frozen chickens from a local farm waiting at the butchers. I have calendula, shepards purse, yarrow, plaintain, dandelion, coltsfoot, violet, rosehips, raspberry leaves, parsley, oregano, chives, thyme, savory, and rose petals dried in jars.
I love this point of the year, the anticipation of the cold and the dark ahead. With a full pantry (even if we're not self-sustainable yet), and a full wood bin, there is such comfort in the coming cold. Winter is my time of greatest creativity, I dive into myself as our world is plunged into the dark and the cold.
There is an image I keep coming back to, I believe I wrote a poem about it once, of my creative soul being a seal who surfaces through the ice into a snow, moon, star, and aura -lit world of winter dark to bring things into being - in fiber, in words, on stage. Its a different kind of hibernation. On the physical plane, I wrap myself in coats and scarves or blankets and mugs of tea and steaming soups by the fire, and gather round with friends and loved ones to create our own sunshine out of love and friendship; while inwardly I go deep down and far out and bring the antipodes back to the hearth.