Years are made up of seasons. That's not a complex statement. It's easy to see the evidence for them and, although their characteristics will vary in different parts of the world, spring, summer, fall, and winter are recognizable. Some prefer one or the other but there is usually no debating that all four exist based on where the sun is throughout the year. The seasons each serve purposes in the scheme of nature.
In the bigger picture, our whole life is likewise made up of seasons but these are easier to quibble over. Spring could be seen as from birth to 20 where we take on the skills of living a life. We grow. We are educated. We move into the world usually on our own.
Then comes summer where what we sowed in the spring grows. We become stronger in different way. We learn more. We often begin our own family and this would be from 20 to 40 years old or thereabouts.
Fall for a human could be seen as the years of reaping the harvest. Investments have been made, children are grown or growing and from 40 to 60, we work and continue to enjoy the benefits of all those earlier years of preparation. Second careers, a strong body, good economy all could make this a season of many options.
That leaves winter-- winter is thought of as being a rather bleak season-- no leaves on the trees, (in most parts of the country) no flowers blooming outside, no warmth, and instead darker, cold, snowy, or wet. Who can get excited about that for a season of nature or life?
In nature, however, each season serves an important purpose. Winter is for the dormancy of the plants, the killing off of the bugs, the ending of one life to give room to new, and giving energy to the whole process, readying it to start again. It is as important as any other season. Some seeds only can sprout if there is a true winter.
Yes, the season of winter appears stark-- all lines and minimal color; yet when I looked at my photos from January, I was surprised at how much beauty there was.
Old age, the winter years of from around 60 to the end, has an aesthetic pleasure all its own; and there are the unexpected moments in old age that nobody else's book nor stories can possible tell us will happen. Old age is not written out in a manual but rather experienced.
Winter is about looking at the details, the small moments, the little triumphs, and it is in those that we can appreciate the season for what it is. It is a time to reflect, to deepen one's connection to the Spirit, to all that exists.
Each season can be fulfilling and rich, part of a total life experience, if one takes full advantage of what is there-- not rushing through, skipping the process, trying to deny what is being experienced.
Yes, it is possible to deny where we are, not do the plowing in spring, or skip the harvest of fall but then we are missing the fullest experience of life. The beauty of life is that the choice is ours for how fully we live it.
These are all photos from January here on the farm. They are about what winter can be--the moments, the details, the surprises, the lines, the way everything is pared down to its essential shape. (I thought about taking a close up photo of my face to show what I see when I look into a mirror-- the fine line hatching that follows the same lines as those revealed on the oak trees in the top photo and then I thought... nah*s*.)