How do we know if we have navigated a season well?
The ice melting. The drip-drip-drip of melting snow in the gutters. The return of bird songs. Watching the dance of the seasons. Hearing thunder that awakens the earth like an alarm clock. The feeling of the sun on a clear day. Heavy snow, and then big melts.
We emerge, just as the earth does beneath our feet. The snow recedes; without the chill, it almost looks like July. We remind ourselves not to be fooled by March, but instead, thankful for the changes and front row seat to the emergence and the awakening.
As the sweet gift of maple sap flows and we are warmed by fires that create syrup, there is a gratitude for winter and the promise of spring that lingers in the scents of the damp earth, wood smoke, and boiling sap.
Welcome to living in real time.
We know when we look at the world around us with new eyes. The trees are no longer the same trees that we entered this season with. The crocuses will have a different meaning now than the year before. We hear new notes in the robin’s song. The mourning dove’s coos hold nostalgia that we did not have before. It all changes just subtly, or sometimes not so subtly.
I am learning—as I face and handle winter this year in a whole new way, with new challenges— that life, just like an intense winter storm, leaves us with a new lens to view into the world. Year after year, we change just like a forest after a storm: our branches break, and we learn to reach to the light in a new way. Most likely a way we never would have before, without that branch being taken in the depths of a storm.
I watch every day how the woods around our house are changing now, and I—like them—feel it, too. I see where the woods have changed from high winds and wild storms this winter, and I see it in myself, too.
My branches are changing. I lost some out there, but I feel the sprouting of new ones. New branches that are better, stronger, more adaptable, and different than I could have imagined.
I am a skeletal shape that holds a story. Strong, messy, growing, softening, blowing in the wind, and ready to change course if needed, even when it hurts.
The air speaks of days that will be brighter. Somewhere out there, they will arrive. On the horizon, I feel it.
For now, though, I am tending to those places where the branches are breaking and sealing them off, so I am not vulnerable but can soon enough spread those new branches to the light with confidence.
Megan Gilger owns Fresh Exchange, a blog and podcast focused on helping people to navigate the seasons from the garden to their kitchen while being focused on community. For the past 12 years, she has used her voice to create connection and inspiration around intentionally navigating through the seasons. Living a life of seasons on a hill in Leelanau County brought her back to her roots and inspired her to share her knowledge and experience about growing a garden with regeneration in mind. Her passion is simple; connect as many people as possible back to the soil under our feet in hopes to ground us, heal us, and ultimately heal the planet and our communities. Learn more at FreshExchange.com or follow along via @freshexchange on Instagram.