Queen of Winter
A lot has been going on the last couple months. Things that have kept me from being creative or productive or myself, really. Sometime I might be able to write about this, but honestly whether or not I will work up the courage to hit “publish” is another matter entirely. In the meantime, here is a wonderful example of the subtlety of Nature and a gentle reminder to open one’s eyes and one’s senses so as not to miss the beauty hiding in plain sight all around us. This is one of my favourite plants in the yard:
Hamamelis vernalis, the Ozark Witch Hazel
During these months, this little shrub is easy to overlook, the eye drawn to the striking silhouettes of greater trees with their stark bones outlined darkly in the winter sky. She looks like this every year—withered and brown—for a good month or so before I remember what it is that I am actually seeing. I am slow as molasses. I always forget and think that those are dead leaves too stubborn to come off their stems. Like those of the pin oaks that are all too common in St. Louis neighborhoods, dropping dead leaves all winter long. But they are not. They are her flowers, beautiful and otherworldly, releasing their heady, spicy-sweet fragrance to the cold spring air—and to anyone who knows well enough to step closer. I remember to do so. Eventually.
Just when I’ve had all the winter I can take, the witch hazel sends her gift—a call to awaken. I need reminders like this often. Open your eyes! Look around you! Breathe deeply! Wake up! Time for the sap to rise, time to shake off introspection and move into action. And always, always time to find beauty no matter what the circumstance is around you. And when you cannot find it, make it. Make it! And know you are not alone. There is the witch hazel, making beauty while all else succumbs to sleep still. That is true strength.
Soon enough the sun will shine again.