The vision for Winter Pages was born in summer. It trickled into my consciousness just a few days after the Habit Writers’ Retreat, a sumptuous feast for the famished. I came home filled up with more than I could possibly digest, and over the following weeks the trickle turned into a waterfall. Ideas gushed forth faster than I could attend to them: a blog post, an essay, collaborative board game, front porch concert, letters, science fiction scenes, and the seed of a wintertime poetry subscription.
Local friends own and operate a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. We purchase a share every year and receive a basket of fresh produce once a week, June through September. Our bodies are nourished, our days are spent outdoors before the leaves fall and the garden is put to bed. Winters are long here in the north, and a good portion of time is spent holed up against polar winds, glare ice, and temperatures as low as -29 °F. The hearty activity of shoveling snow and stacking wood gives the idle mind room to stretch and wander and yearn. A person can only hibernate so long before becoming restless. Bitter cold makes for a sparse landscape, but it also carves out a cavernous ache for color, which comes back with a rush every spring. On the prairie that rush usually comes in May; your hopes are bound to be dashed if you wish for it any earlier.
I have learned to love winter, to lean into its embrace. Jonathan Rogers often reminds us that creativity is a river, not a reservoir, and in my mind the storehouses of the snow are an endless trove of delight. Are any two snowflakes alike? Any two shades of gray? What color is the sky today? Ash or iron, fog or smoke, slate, gunmetal, charcoal, ghost, granite, silver, dapple, tin, falcon, cygnet, mouse, dolphin? What about the varying shades of Eeyore, Gandalf, or Peter Pan’s shadow? The wealth of nuance never abates and never ceases to amaze me.
With the planet’s tilt comes darkness. Our days’ brevity batters us like a record stuck on the word death. Color and life have shriveled away, buried deep underground. Mourning howls through the bare trees, sheets of rain penetrate to the very bone. Grief, sorrow, and lament are good and right in this season, but they are only half of the whole, which is the fullness of joy. We do not live in a witch’s realm where it is “always winter and never Christmas.” Fullness has begun. Even now.
These winter pages are reminders: the line is a curve, not a dead-end trajectory into obsidian oblivion. The road bends, and the silver mist fades. Gold and Green are true stories. Evergreen garlands point to it. Tinsel catches the light. Auroras dance. Georg Friedrich Händel, Nat King Cole, or other old familiar carols play. We gather on the darkest days of the year to break bread in a fellowship of gratefulness.
Half a year later, the seed is a sprout, ready to unfold its leaves and bloom before our eyes. For now, we wait.
Reagan loves names and words and stories. She once studied creative writing and theatre arts, but today she homeschools, writes handwritten letters, and salvages her own little house on the prairie with a husband, daughter, and multiplying menagerie (one dog, two cats, and a flock of chickens). Her favorite seasons are winter, spring, summer, and fall. Follow her blog, The Grace Book, to read more of her work.