“All things are meltable, and replaceable. Not at this moment, but soon enough, we are lambs and we are leaves, and we are stars, and the shining, mysterious pond water itself.”
Mary Oliver, Winter Hours
Our winter routine includes a daily walk through the woods, “the loop” as Jamie and I call it. From our house we walk down the road, past a few neighboring farms, into our family campground, into the woods, past the troll tree, along the Waupecan creek, out the other side of the woods, through my folk’s yard, back down the road past our neighbor Fuzz’s house, and home. In total it’s only about 2.5 miles, give or take our forest side-hike diversions. A few giant sycamores mark the way in the winter woods, their white architecture shines. Our family favorite, the “troll tree”, is hollowed out at the bottom and if you look up inside you can see the red eyes of the trolls looking back at you. Through the years, countless children have witnessed the creatures above and hurriedly left the tree making sure to hike out before dark, because that’s when the trolls come down from the top of the sycamore.
One late December morning while hiking the loop, we passed the troll tree and hugged along the bank of the Waupecan Creek. The creek had just frozen over the night before, and we were surrounded by the silence of the moment. Leaves that had finally fallen from the canopy were frozen in time at the moment they fell into the water. The dormant beauty around us seemed to be suspended – and quiet. It was like we had snuck into the forest at a moment of transition from one season to the next, and the whole scene was paused – not stopped, just paused.
Looking back through pictures on my phone that night, I was struck by the images from our hike. In the nursery, we are in a similar season of pause. The leaves of our busy fall season were still dropping as we entered into the holidays. The flowing creek of our daily lives rushing ahead just weeks ago, finally slowed – and froze. The pause and silence this time of year in our nursery is restful and necessary. It gives us a moment to reflect on the season behind us and take a breath. Collectively, 2020 was certainly a season worthy of reflection for all of us. In the nursery, 2020 brought us many challenges and opportunities. Our team took on the uncertainty of the early spring shut-down and persevered through the anxiety of the times. Our customers worked hard to meet the demands of the day, and we worked hard alongside them to help get the job done. Our trees soaked in the sun and rain and did their job filling out, ready for the next season ahead. Our family experienced tremendous loss and abundant joy. Maybe some of you did too. 2020 was definitely a season worthy of reflection.
But under the frozen creek, the waters are moving. The thaw is coming – the leaves will wash away and crumble into the soil. We are paused in this moment on top of the Waupecan, but we are also stirring below. Our daily hikes take us by familiar scenes, but on each walk we see something new – maybe even a new path. Our season in the nursery is much the same. The familiarity of preparing for spring – plans, ideas, connections, orders – it always takes a well-travelled route. But in a frozen pause, sometimes a new branch springs forth. We are hiking into next season looking for those moments, and we can’t wait to see where this New Year will take us. We hope you will join us along the way – maybe you will even see some trolls!
Happy New Year,