Preparing for Winter

The berries are like Mama’s shade-shifting lipstick.

Autumn is here. Sheila says our backyard holly tree is in panic mode over whatever winter weather is to come. The holly is ensuring that all who are hungry will have berries aplenty for the cold months ahead. She has prepared a winter feast.

Holly’s berries were green
then pinkish orange,
color deepening now
with each day that
the sun sleeps longer.
The berries are like Mama’s

shade-shifting lipstick, I
think, waxy green in the
tube, transformed to candy
apple red on her lips. “Don’t
you think you’re overdoing it,

a bit?” I asked Holly. I have
never seen so many berries.
She must be getting tired from
wearing all the jewels summer
has draped over her spindly arms.

Her only response is to blush
in the autumn light while mama
wren sticks her head out from
the inflamed branches and offers
up a scolding winter prelude.

Daffodil Prayers

Photo by Sheila G. Hunter. “Daffodil, with Scars”

“Dip your aching toes
in cool waters,”
said Summer to the
wilderness
wandering
woman.

“Tease your tastebuds
with blackberries. Lay
your weary body down
on gentle meadow
grass. Breathe in the
soft sweetness of coral
honeysuckle where
hummingbirds drink
and dance.”

“Blush with pride,”
said Autumn
to the old maple tree.

“You earned it. You
shaded the little girl who
held summer stars
in her eyes
while she
sat beneath your branches
and read
and read
and read
once upon a times into
dreams into
fierce hopes for the future.”

“Bend toward hope
when icy winds blow,”
said Winter
to the fragile-seeming ones.

“Bend, but don’t break.
You are stronger than you know.
You are resilient.
You are enough.”

“To push your shoulders
up, up, up,”
said Spring.

“Up through still-cold
greening sod to
fragrance the dawn
with daffodil prayers.

Nature Photo Challenge

A friend invited me to participate this week in the #NaturePhotoChallenge. For seven days, I posted nature photos on Facebook. This was a fun challenge. Here is my week’s worth of nature photos (I posted two squirrel pictures on the same day):

Winter Drama II
Mapping Winter

Winter Sunlight 2
Winter Sunlight

Winter Journeys
Winter Journeys

Winter Untitled
Winter Dreams

Winter Hope
Winter Hopes

Ice Faces
Winter Ice Faces

Squirrel 2
Winter Squirrel

Squirrel
Winter Squirrel II

Cedars in Snowy Places

Winter is coming. But even in winter-dead forests, cedars are green forever. Not boisterous or extravagant. Steady. Green in every season.

Advent Reflections for Winter Solstice

Winter
Solstice.
Gyroscopic dance choreographed by Earth’s axial tilt.
Sun stand still
Longest night,
shortest day
Yule
Midwinter
The land is vulnerable now,
sometimes covered by snowflakes
that have let go of something
somewhere
up there
and pirouetted down
down,
down
from the heavens
to enchant rooftops
and leaning-over farm fences
and autumn-tarnished grass.
And while tulip bulbs repose
in unseen silence
beneath the austere earth,
cedars in snowy places
fragrance the cold air
with emerald stillness
and praise the December moonlight.

Winter is coming. Soon, cold will blow up on our doorsteps and clamor to get in through our windows. Winter is coming. But even in winter-dead forests, cedars are green forever. Even when all other creation colors hibernate. Cedars remain. Not boisterous or extravagant. Steady. Green in every season.

On this longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, I am grateful for cedars in life’s winter place. Cedars perfume the air with God’s evergreen promises during a Christmas season when so many hearts are broken and so much about our world causes spirits to ache. Thanks be to God for people who are “home” to us in every season, for places that cultivate our best selves, and for Gospel promises with deep roots that even in wintry times know how to live on.

**Note: Winter Solstice happens in the Northern Hemisphere in late December (11:48 p.m. ET, 10:48 p.m. CT, 9:48 p.m. MT and 8:48 p.m. PT on December 21 and on December 22 in other places in the Northern Hemisphere).

Photograph, “Cedars in Snowy Places,” by Sheila G. Hunter, all rights reserved.