Most of us recognize these words to the traditional Christmas song Silent Night. It is such a beautiful song and perhaps I may be forgiven if I associate the words with the entire winter season.
The frosty temperatures of northern winters are certainly not for everyone. The air stings with its frigid fingers the minute you walk outdoors, moisture accumulates in masses of white and darkness engulfs the earth in what seems like an eternity. Indoors, the hearth with the warm glow of embers offers comfort as does the familiar family quilt or blanket. Outdoors is a no man's land only to be braved out of pure necessity never for enjoyment. Unless . . . .
As you step outside for a moment to stare at the remnants of what was, another kind of warmth enters the soul. There can be beauty in death particularly if deep underneath there is a possibility of resurrection. The bright fuchsia cone flower is now a dried, sepia version of its former glory and yet there is a subtle beauty to this. Dried seed heads abound and none are more thankful than the birds that endure the short, cold days.
What of peace and quiet? Step into the snow and let it swallow your legs. Stand for a minute with your face directly in the path of the blast of cold air. Close your eyes and listen for a moment. The dried leaves that remain on the trees will sing to you. The noisy chatter of birds is subdued and yet their noise matches the wintry scene perfectly. They too are quiet as if to remind you that this is a time of reflection and tranquility. The wind blows again and a leaf stuck in the ground breaks away and flutters past. It is ready to continue its journey to somewhere beyond. Where it finds its final resting place, who knows?
Your feet are cold now but it does not matter. You are lost now in the beauty of it all and come to the realization that winter is not foreboding or constraining. It is just another chapter in the life of everything around you. This is not a no man's land but a land with a message. Time brings change and change must happen to create the perfect balance. There can be no summer without a winter and there can be no life without death. Some may argue that in the southern tropics, the summer is eternal but even in the warmest of climes, there is still change. Winter may not bring cold and snow but it does bring the change of shorter days and an unmistakable sense of differentiation of other parts of the year.
With eyes wide open, you take a few more steps through the snow and turn your eyes straight to the sky and breathe in the air. Memories of your youth fill your mind and you smile at your recollection of the sheer delight a wintry day can bring. Snow was your friend then and nothing made you happier than playing in it. You allow yourself to fall back into the embrace of the cold mass and now the cold engulfs every part of your body but strangely you do not mind. As satisfying as basking in the sun in the peak of summer is, this too is just as inviting and satisfying not to mention invigorating.
When you can bear no more of the cold, you stand, wipe yourself off and meander slowly to the inviting warmth of your home. The dried rose breathes sentimental words to you as you walk past and the birds again converse in the open air as if to say until next time. Once inside, you change, drink some hot cocoa and stare at the wonderland you had just immersed yourself in. There certainly is a sense that the world around you is asleep in heavenly peace.
Squirrel enjoying its harvest
This leaf's final destination?
The beauty of ice.
All photos taken by author. Thank you for reading and blessings to you all.
About Benjamin Hill
I am an old fashioned gardener. To me nothing is finer than the romantic cottage gardens. The colours and forms create a symphony to delight all the senses. I love to tell a good story and my garden provides my inspiration. I am blessed to have such a beautiful son and I enjoy teaching him to love and appreciate the goodness, peace and fulfillment tending a garden can bring. Finally, I shall be forever grateful to Alan Titchmarsh for inspiring me to get out there and make something out of a little bit of earth.