A Mid-Winter Reprieve; Finding Stillness

A Mid-Winter Reprieve; Finding Stillness

Winter catches me by surprise. I know it’s coming, but I always think I have another weekend to plant spring bulbs or to paint the Adirondack chairs.

Some people want to do good deeds. Others want to improve their health. I want to be more like my chickens. Over the next two months, I intend to follow their example to recharge this winter, a season that inexplicably surprised me by arriving on time.

The hens are in full winter mode. For starters, they’re laying one or two eggs a day, a pitiable yield from 13 coddled and cosseted chickens. They pop out of their coop when the sun comes up around 7:30 and are back in for the night by 5.

They’re ruled by the sun, and daylight is their master. There’s not enough of it — plus, when it’s cold, their energy goes into making heat, not eggs.

They’ve been molting — losing and replacing feathers — for weeks now, and several are rough-looking characters, like post-apocalyptic survivors trapped in a backyard pen. Again, it’s an energy issue. Their resources are directed inward growing feathers.

My flower beds are doing their own winter reboot. The compost I spread on the beds is gradually breaking down over the long, dark months. A layer of snow is good for the plants; it protects them from drying wind and prevents roots from heaving out of the ground. They’re storing up energy for a spring growth spurt.

While we’re buried in our phones and work and Netflix binge-watching and other decidedly un-nature-like activities, it’s easy to forget the value of paying attention to the season’s cues.

I like to take time to be still, to put energy into new feathers, you might say, during winter. Some people think summer is a time to regroup, but I like nature’s example — wild exuberance and growth during long and sunny days, quiet stillness in the winter. Plus, I get to catch up on my TV shows.

Spending time outside in the winter is a good way to appreciate nature at rest while you’re sliding over cross-country ski trails or tromping through the woods. Check out our Winter Wonders story up above.

My Buff Orpington Ola is a sorry excuse for a chicken, at least on the outside. But inside, I know she’s got lots of fluffy yellow feathers getting ready to surface and soon will get back to laying five eggs a week. Winter didn’t catch Ola by surprise; she knew it was coming — and she’s owning it.


By the way, the photo of the single chicken is Ola in mid-molt.


About the author

Marie Elium spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter in Virginia and Ohio before switching to freelance writing when her two children were young. The kids are now Millennials, but writing continues to be one of her favorite endeavors. Marie was named editor of Northeast Ohio Boomer and Beyond magazine in November 2015 and is a graduate of Miami University. Marie can be reached at [email protected]

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