It’s that time of year already, in which I am compelled to pull up old photos of the garden. Does it seem earlier than usual?
A part of me relishes the slowing down and quiet of the winter months. There’s more time for writing and making art. I manage far less during the growing season, especially now with energy limited and having to make a choice most days between one or the other and sometimes neither.
It is so much quieter now in my city backyard, which is often full-on during the “gentler” seasons with stress-barking dogs, and stress-barking humans, and machines (a neighbour has an outdoor saw and a day doesn’t go by when he isn’t sawing for hours at a time). The quiet is nice — a sure sign that I am getting older, or perhaps just more self-aware, and when I go into the garden it is just me, my dog, the occasional bird, and some street noise that I almost don’t hear anymore having lived off of major urban streets my entire adult life.
But through the winter I miss the homegrown food and the promise of food to come. I miss green beings emerging from the soil and the smells. My god, a city winter is mostly scentless. There’s a reason why they don’t make dirty snow, previously frozen dog poop, and idling car exhaust into scented candles. I start to forget about earthy smells, and then when I remember, the longing is so deep that it aches in my belly — the branches and bits of green things, and the hundreds of potted plants I bring indoors just don’t seem to cut it.
By the end of winter what I need is to be crouched down over the earth pressing little seeds into cool, moist soil.
It’s only December. My worst month of the year. Months to go yet to spring. How will we survive these months in the dark? I don’t know. I feel that old fear, but it is somehow different now. Maybe I’m not so afraid now to sit in the dark. I know I’m not alone there. And maybe I’m not worrying so much because I’ve been made to sit there for so long and have become more accustomed to it, more trusting that I’ll be okay. Maybe I have learned of its depths and my strengths, and so winter doesn’t seem as long or as difficult as it once did.
Maybe some old fear or attachment to certain seasons has shifted a little and I just don’t have all the words to put to it yet.
I just know that it will be okay here for now, albeit uncomfortable, and that soon enough I’ll be in that familiar place again, crouched over the soil, pressing little seeds into the cool, moist earth. Me, the garden, my little dog, the stress barking dogs, the barking humans, that neighbour and his never not sawing saw… All of it/us.