Mind Matters — Meandering Mid-Winter Musings

At the beginning of February, we have Groundhog Day which actually harkens back to Imbolc, the “cross quarter” day between winter solstice and spring Equinox. In times before Europe was called Europe, people marked the day with bonfires of the greens they had festooned their houses with for the winter solstice.

No one likes Punxsutawney Phil to see his shadow, but whether he does or not, spring does not arrive until March 21 anyway. And actually I am one of the few people in the Philadelphia environs who likes winter, especially a snowy one.

Yes, I understand all the downsides of snow: the hazards of driving, the shoveling, and so on. However, admit it, is not icy rain and sleet that slicks sidewalks and streets and cuts out power so much worse?

Back to snow: perhaps in our heart of hearts, we all want a good snowstorm. Why else would snowmen proliferate on Christmas cards and decorations?

You know the French Toast phenomenon of everyone running to the grocery store for milk, bread, and eggs at the hint of the forecast of snow? Perhaps that is because secretly, everyone would like to be snowed in! The inner child of snowflakes past really wants a snow day. A day to, after the shoveling is done, sip hot cocoa or—make a snowman.

There are places where there are no winters, no change of seasons. But there must be for everyone a time for interior seasons—shifts and changes. Winter, for those of us lucky enough to have it, can be a time for hibernation, a going inward to reflect on what is growing within us to blossom in its own good time.

Every farmer—every gardener—knows that, in winter there are all sorts of life germinating within the soil. Trees and plants are not dead, but dormant. And that sleep is necessary also for the nutrients in the earth to flourish. However, snowy winters are even better. Snow, in fact, is the farmer’s friend. A good snow that melts slowly helps the ground to gain a greater amount of nutrients, giving sustenance to plants, trees and seeds.

Likewise for us. What if we saw snow as a reminder for us to slow down, hibernate a little and replenish ourselves with some “dormancy” to get re-vitalized. We live in a 24/7 world. We can be reached anytime, at any moment. Anywhere. We do not depend on seasons or solstices for marking our time or our work. We can leave the lights on all night and we can work all night. Indoor plumbing, electric lights, and an automatic thermostat have made it possible for us to disconnect from earth’s cycles. So snow comes along and impedes our disconnect from our true nature of dependence on nature.

Despite the downsides, snow brings us quiet. Indeed science shows that snow, because of its insulating qualities, actually does muffle sound. What if we tuned into that quiet and allowed ourselves to savor some quiet within as well?

We are so fascinated with snow globes—perhaps we do indeed sometimes fantasize being in one!