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Winter’s gift: An appreciation of Earth coming alive again

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This winter horribilis has been one to remember: bone-chilling cold, the likes of which we’ve not experienced for many a year, and a heaping helping of gloom, murk, and drear — not to mention sky high heating bills. Sunny days have been few and far between, and cabin fever and SAD (seasonal affective disorder/”winter depression”) have been almost as rampant as colds and flu.

 

It was the proverbial dark and stormy night, but thankfully the tornadoes that were in the forecast for our area last evening didn’t materialize, and we got only thunder/lightning and 30 minutes or so of torrential rain.

When I went out at 5:00 a.m. to get the newspaper, the line of storms had moved on east and in their wake moon and stars were shining brightly in a crystal clear, inky black sky — something we don’t get that often in these parts, what with the dust and glop that are a constant component of our air in the humid South.

Driving home yesterday afternoon from a producer meeting, my car temperature gauge read 82 degrees. As I sat a few minutes on the deck late afternoon, a giant mosquito plopped down on my arm, preparing to bite. This morning, I was scraping ice off my windshield. Just a week ago, as I was headed to another meeting, much of the Mississippi Delta had been slammed by ice and snow.

This winter horribilis has been one to remember: bone-chilling cold, the likes of which we’ve not experienced for many a year, and a heaping helping of gloom, murk, and drear — not to mention sky high heating bills. Sunny days have been few and far between, and cabin fever and SAD (seasonal affective disorder/”winter depression”) have been almost as rampant as colds and flu.

But as I write this at 7:00 in the morning, bright sunshine is flooding through my window, bringing welcome warmth to my office, turning lazily floating dust motes into tiny sparkling stars. A nice day in the offing, the weather peeps say, with tomorrow to be even better. But cold again for next week and the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show.

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Despite the uncommonly cold temps that have left us a landscape of uniformly drab brown, and the Pennsylvania rodent’s ominous forecast of six extra weeks of winter, Mother Nature is not asleep at the switch. Crimson buds are beginning to burst on maple trees, feathery gray leaves are unfurling on elms; daffodils and hyacinths are budding, with even a bright blossom here and there.

We can, experience tells us, expect cold snaps and even the occasional frost through Easter, but each day will get incrementally warmer and spring that much nearer.

Before we know it, equipment will be in the fields and farmers will begin anew the ages-old cycle of planting and tending that, they hope, will lead to a bountiful harvest. And all too soon, the raucous sound of lawn mowers and WeedEaters will be heard in the land.

The best one can say of a winter such as we’ve had, other than “good riddance,” is that it makes us appreciate all the more the wondrous process of Earth coming alive again.

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