Today, December 21st is the official first day of winter and for gardeners a turning point in the calendar. This is the shortest day of the year with each day after being just a bit longer bringing more light. The shortened days and longer nights signal a time of rest in the plant and animal kingdoms. It seems like we humans are the only ones who try to keep up a crazy pace.
Rest in Nature
In our honey bee hives, everything revolves around the summer solstice on June 21st. The bees expand their hives with brood and honey production up to that day and then amazingly as if they’ve set a clock begin to slow down. Right now they are sleeping cozily in their winter hives and eating the honey they stored this summer, rarely leaving the hive unless the temperature is just right.
Winter is considered to be a slumbering time in the garden with most plants in a dormant period living off the food and energy they stored in their roots during the active growing season. Different plants react to day length and temperature in different ways. The shortening days of Autumn trigger leaves to drop on deciduous trees and shrubs getting them ready for a winter rest. The long dark hours of Winter do serve a purpose as many plants won’t bloom unless triggered by a stretch of longer nights. While winter may be a time of slumber, there are things you can do in your garden. I’ve written before about various tasks you can do in the winter garden, and if you are curious you can read about them here. https://hopemtnnurseries.com/2016/01/five-things-garden-wishes-youd-winter/
Learning to Take a Rest
Today I don’t feel much like talking about those things. It’s hard to motivate someone else when you don’t feel particularly motivated. Lately, my thoughts have been about rest, what does it really mean to rest? A common thread I’ve heard over this past year is how tired everyone is.
The past two years have been hard and even the most upbeat people I know are wiped out!
I was sharing with a friend about how sluggish I’ve been these past few months and she had a great response. Here’s the conversation.
Me: “Yesterday I took a nap even though I had plenty of sleep the night before. I’m so tired all the time there must be something wrong with me!
My friend: “So you mean you took a rest?”
Me: “Well,… yeah but I felt so bad because I have so much to do that when I got up I stayed up working on a project for hours.”
My friend: “So you took a rest and then felt guilty about it so you tried to make up for it?”
Bingo! She nailed it and I’ve really been taking some time to absorb her words. Everywhere I look in nature I see it calling for us to slow down right now and rest. So that’s what I’ve been doing, enjoying my season of rest and not letting myself feel guilty about the never-ending to-do list. Wanna know the best part? It feels wonderful!
So I encourage you all to enjoy the rest of Winter. Spring and the hard work of long days in the garden will be here soon enough, not a minute too soon or a moment too late. Just right on time.