Fall colors are a visual swan song: rust, ochre, and amber give the year’s symphony of botanical color a final flourish before falling silent. In November, the trees become bare, fog settles over the dry fields, and frost blankets the ground. Autumn’s hue loses its saturation; everything becomes a quiet brown. It’s the pivot towards winter.
I have always associated winter with cold, loss and hardship. The weather’s icy, adversarial attitude, the darkness looming and foreboding —our language and cultural concept have made winter out to be the bad guy. Most of us are privileged to have a warm house, but I still hear a tone of drudgery everywhere in reference to winter’s season of waiting.
So maybe winter has been tough on humans in general, but the rest of the natural world seems to take it in stride. Animals have stored their food, perennial plants have buttressed their internal functions against the cold, annual plants have scattered tiny promises of their future, which lie sleeping in the ground.
Cold isn’t bad for the bear who has eaten enough, dark isn’t bad to the seed who’s proteins are maturing for spring’s light. Everyone else is ready for winter’s quiet journey inward —so why aren’t we? Why do we need constant stimuli to feel ok?