One of my favorite books “Let Your Life Speak” by Parker Palmer contains some good advice as we head into winter. He says, “In the Upper Midwest, newcomers often receive a classic piece of wintertime advice: “The winters here will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them.” Here people spend good money on warm clothing so that they can get outdoors and avoid the “cabin fever” that comes from huddling fearfully by the fire during the hard-frozen months. If you live here long, you learn that a daily walk into the winter world will fortify the spirit by taking you boldly to the very heart of the season you fear.”
Even though many of us would not choose winter as our favorite season, it is hard to deny that winter has a beauty and an invitation all its own. It is a time to soak up the silence of a snowy landscape, to be awed at the architecture of the trees we so often overlook when all is green and to joyfully welcome back the birds that call our land their home for these cold winter months. In the coming days, take the time and make the effort to heed Parker Palmer’s advice to “get out” into winter. Go for walks and watch the familiar juncos and white-throated sparrows as they scurry through the underbrush. Go search for the harder-to-find rough-legged hawks and flocks of horned larks, American pipits and snow buntings in the farm fields or the elusive hermit thrush in the woodlands. May the winter season, even as it sometimes tries the soul, bring us a sense of joy and of gratitude for the birds we will miss and fondly remember when they leave us in May. Get out and go look for them while they are with us and enjoy the seeking as much as the finding.