A few days ago we spent a couple of hours learning about local perennials at Lone Mountain Natives. We’re working on transforming what once was a patch of grass in our front yard into a native wildflower bed. In addition to requiring much less water once they are established, native wildflowers will add a changing array of color to our little landscape during the course of each spring, summer and fall.
We are planting these wildflower perennials now because, unlike annual plants that are typically grown in a vegetable garden, these plants will survive through the winter and actually grow better next spring if they are planted now. Evidently, fall planting gives them a chance to focus on development of roots over the winter, which will make them stronger when they are ready to focus on growth above ground, come spring.
This has got me thinking about winter, and how we tend to think of it as a time when plants go dormant—because we cannot see where the growth is actually occurring. It turns out that, for many plants, growth takes place year-round, as it does with us. Plants focus their attention downward, toward their roots, when the weather is cold, and upward, toward leaves, flowers, and fruit, when it is warm. There’s a seasonal rhythm to their growth cycle.
Last week I talked about the need for a weekly rhythm of rest and activity in our lives. Now I am thinking more broadly, of the need for seasonal rhythms in our human lives as well. As a culture, we are entering a time of focusing on family and bounty, celebrated through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. After that, winter then takes hold, and we tend to spend more time indoors. Our ancestors spent winter evenings naturally focused more on caring for the unseen—reading for the soul, mending socks that hid away in shoes, repairing things around the house.
When is the last time that you actually took a look at the seasonal rhythms of your life? What does winter mean to you, in that regard?
What might it look like for you to focus on growing your roots in the coming months?