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My drummer, Ezra, tells me, “Sometimes, You gotta go deep.”
In the blink of an eye, the parade has passed. The forest is bare. Stick season is here.
I’m experiencing color withdrawal. I mourn the not-so-gradual loss of light. I tell myself to surrender and accept the situation, but it’s difficult when the flora and fauna are absent and the snowbirds are flying south. For awhile, tiny golden tamarack needles sustained their color like the lingering note of a tune. Now, only the stubborn oak leaves cling defiant to their branches. (There’s always someone who cannot accept that the party is over.)
I figure a new way of seeing will soon kick in. It is good that stick season provides these weeks of November and December to adjust to the change. I begin to remember how the blue and green mosses and lichens become the color of the winter. And the contours of the landscape! How have I forgotten? All the secrets of the forest floor are laid bare. The broad backs of ridges and rocky outcrops. The dried cattail wetlands and dark creek beds exposed beneath a stubble of branches. This new territory revealed again for the first time. By December, snow is a revelation.
I’ve been running the wood stove now for five days straight. Each morning a thick white frost on the leaf-strewn grass melts under the bright, blue morning sky. The daily rhythm of bringing in firewood has begun - and with it, sweeping up wood debris and taking out the ash as well.
At this point, the clock is ticking and there’s only so much one can do before the first snow falls. I recognize these steps of retreat to an indoor life, so I pace myself. One thing at a time. First, gather the tomato cages. Then, cut the asparagus down. The garlic still needs to be planted. Swap out storm windows for screens. Cover up the grill. Move the snowblower into position. I am still awaiting delivery of five cords of wood. There are few things more tedious than stacking firewood that is coated in wet snow, so I hope it arrives soon. The manual labor serves as an important meditation on the coming season. Soon enough it will be time to embrace winter’s pastimes of songwriting, storytelling, handcrafts, and reimagining next years garden.
My drummer, Ezra, tells me, “Sometimes, You gotta go deep.” His words stuck in my head for weeks after. I was relating to him how I love to do many things. His response was that for him, to do something well, you really have to focus and do only one thing for awhile. I’ve been trying to clear the decks to “go deep” ever since. I suppose now is as good a time as any.
In the fall I trade leaves for sticks, and sticks for snow. In the winter I’ll trade snow for stories, and stories for songs. Soon enough, I will trade songs for soil, and soil for leaves and flowers.
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