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Golden winter woodsThe older I get, the deeper my love for winter grows.  Bemoaned for its long nights, dull days and monotonous cold, January is often everyone’s least favorite month. There are barely any dates of note on the calendar (with the exception of today, Martin Luther King day). Compared to the pomp and celebratory splendor of December, January seems to linger quite languidly, like the motionless shadow of the new year. But that’s exactly why I love it.

Shiso

January is the ultimate month of recuperation for me. It’s the withdrawal, the silence, the time to rediscover the space of stillness that exists within just waiting to expand. With nowhere to go, nothing to celebrate, and so much time sitting vigil in the darkness…something akin to transcendence breaks though. In these past few weeks I’ve been taking it very easy. Working minimally, spending most evenings by myself, reorganizing the apothecary, and going for long winter walks. Some days my sole intention is simply to listen: to the conversation of the birds, the swish of the trees, the heat as it hisses on– the quieter voice of my own spirit that gets so lost in the whirl of other seasons. Some days I barely speak. I haven’t been so content in a long while. winter shadowsAnise Hyssop in jar winterBooks to ceiling and nestsEvery action in winter, so extreme next to the stillness of the world, seems to mimic some deeper need. I’ve hiked up a familiar ridge just to witness the surprise of how much farther the land continues through the bare winter trees. I’ve also visited the paths of unknown woods, simply to meet something entirely new in the world, to touch a farther corner than ever before and see how it felt. It’s amazing what depths and distance exists within us, the unexpected terrain that remains so totally obscured until we allow a hush, a pause, a peace.

Morning houseWeaverville graveyard tree

Blue Ridge in Winter

For me, cozy in my house and free to just be, winter is a blissful existence: I make tea. I do yoga. I read. I plan for the future and write down my dreams. Last week I finally took down the bundles of nettles, anise hyssop, and tulsi that have been drying in the apothecary and reorganized my room. This weekend, I bought myself a rose.

Dry Herb processing seatVines in BarnardsvilleBookshelf with candle

Weaverville GraveyardWinter is the time for us to simply witness the frame of our existence. Explore its strength, its spaces, its stark beauty. Begin to walk the rooms of our innerselves and allow new dreams to surface: plans of the elaborate, fantasies, memories, an elopement with the unseen self and the greater mystery of being.

Bottom floor beginnings