There is still so much to see in the frozen land around us, the wonders of nature are still visible...the elegant shapes of the barren trees, the resilient birds that stayed, and the transformation of our landscapes into small canyons and mountains of ice and snow.
And I have been reading about the subnivean, that zone under the snow and above the ground, an in-between space...where lots happens...in the winter months. Animals that we may normally see in the woods in the spring summer and autumn disappear under the snow into the subnivean zone for the winter months where they live and rest and eat and wait and give birth...where many remain very active and get ready to emerge again in the spring, ready for new growth. So winter is indeed a time for growth, renewal and life...it is not empty space (is there such a thing?).
I do not call myself a gardener because I don't like the pressure of the label...but I do really enjoy gardening, in particular the harvesting of tomatoes in the late summer (my husband, much more patient that I am is the one who gets them to this point) and freezing sauces for the winter ahead. And what I enjoy even more is taking a container of tomato puree out of the freezer in the winter and enjoying it ...just defrost, heat and serve. In every spoonful of healthy delicious sauce lies the work of planting and growing and harvesting and pureeing, and winter is a time to enjoy what comes from this work...and to get ready for the spring and summer ahead...more planting, more growth, more work, and again another harvest.
So what can the wisdom of nature and the cycles of the seasons tell us about our mental health? I see "emotional winter" as a time where emotionally we may not have as much visible energy but where we may be storing and conserving energy, enjoying the efforts of past growth, reflecting and anticipating new growth. Just as the cycle of earth and sun brings us winter so the contexts of our lives are such that at times we find ourselves emotionally in winter. Rest, retreat and reflective subtle growth can be recognized as essential to mental health whatever the season outdoors. Each snowflake is unique just as each of our routes to mental health is unique.
My search for balance continues...