“The Season’s Reasons,” Ensign, Dec. 1987, 40–41
It came much too quickly for me that year. I hadn’t yet finished with summer, and there it was falling all around me … winter! Like a reprimand to me for not having taken time to “smell the roses,” the silvery snowflakes seemed to laugh at me.
I stood at a foggy window, staring out into the blizzard of early morning. The darkness slowly began to give way to rays of sunlight filtering through the storm. The world seemed to take on a lightness, but maintained its darkness as well. I could barely see across the street.
Staring deep into the milky whiteness, I felt a depression settle over me, bringing with it a sudden claustrophobia. A familiar tension surfaced reminding me that such feelings had appeared before with the first snow of the year.
I shivered and pulled my robe tighter around me. What tragedies and problems had this storm brought with it, I wondered. Where is the beauty that poets have written about? If winter is so beautiful, why do my toes and fingers ache? Why do I always resist it, even after it has arrived?
An alarm clock went off in the other room, and I felt a sudden panic. My time to ponder was over for the day. I decided to keep the drapes closed and ignore the dreary weather.
It was still storming fiercely when I sent the children out to catch the school bus; light wisps of snow rushed inside and around my feet as I quickly closed the door behind them. I turned up the heat and pushed a tape into the stereo. I gave the baby her bath and breakfast, then put her down for a nap. The mailman came and went, but I did not even go out.
I started my cleaning and tore through the house like a cyclone, hoping to work off some of my frustration. When I could clean no more, I pulled the tape from the tape deck and turned on the radio. A cheerful voice was commenting on the storm. I turned it off. The phone rang, and a neighbor asked my opinion on the weather. I didn’t even want to talk about it.
After school, the older children soon came crashing through the door shaking the snow from their gloves and feet. My daughter went straight to the fridge to hang up the paper snowflakes she had made in school. She hung them right there so I could enjoy them. I tried to smile and thank her, but I only shivered and turned away to look for a sweater.
I was working on dinner when my husband arrived. As he put his icy hands on my neck, I dropped the spoon into the spaghetti sauce. I could tell by the drops in his hair that it was still storming.
After dinner there was a sink full of dishes, and all my helpers had urgent homework. I stood there with my hands in the hot soapy water and closed my eyes. I thought about the water-skiing that we had meant to do that year, the picnics that were too few and far between. I recalled our one and only camping trip, remembering how delectable it felt to have the hot summer sun beat down on us as we hiked. Suddenly I wanted to go into the backyard and hang the clothes out on the line. I yearned to mow the lawn and weed the roses, to pick a tomato from my garden or sit in the lawn chairs and sip a cold drink. I wanted to send the children out to the sandpile or to the swings. I wanted to wade in the irrigation water or wash and wax the car. If only the daylight would stay longer in the evening, or if only I could breathe in the fragrance of just one freshly cut rose. Oh, why must things change? I threw open the curtain above the sink exposing the window that looks out into the backyard.
The storm was over, and an incredibly white blanket covered my summer haven. All was still—a quietness that made me pause at the window for a moment. Impulsively, I snatched my husband’s coat and ran to the door.
Outside, I stood for a moment in the stillness. I saw outlines of the sand pile and swing set beneath the great white blanket, little mounds where my garden had been, and snow-laden trees and bushes. An old familiar feeling settled in my heart as I looked all around me at the streets and sidewalks, the blanketed cars and bicycles. I walked along the side of the house, making tracks in the unmarred whiteness. The air smelled fresh, and the crisp temperature carried my breath off into the wind. I stopped near the rose bushes, remembering their endless supply of delight. I had chosen the most beautiful bursts of color before they had reached their full bloom, clipping them for a generous bouquet. Now, they slumbered beneath the weight of a winter blanket. The fragrance of summer was gone.
Patience, I thought. Winter has come again to teach us patience—and tranquility. I brushed the snow from a rose cluster only to find that the petals also brushed away, exposing a barren branch. Dead? No; the roots were living. “They will be back,” I thought aloud—back at the first sign of spring, with new buds that can only be born from the respite that winter imposes. The earth and all living things will renew themselves for spring. And so, I thought, shall I.
A full and luscious summer had come and gone, leaving me yearning for just one more sun-drenched day. But now, at last, I felt an acceptance of winter. The earth had come again to its time of resting, and I had come to a time of patience.
The time for checkers and fireside chats had crept upon us. There would be more time for reading and sharing, organizing a closet, writing a long overdue letter, and even building a snowman. The time to replenish relationships, to strengthen ties, to dig deeper roots had arrived. It would be a season of patience, returning to basics, and being home.
My face was cold, and I went back into the kitchen. I finished the dishes, and the children reappeared. My husband went to the window and commented that the storm had passed. All of us seemed drawn to the window; we stood there looking out into the peaceful night, like a family posing for a Christmas card photo. I breathed a contented sigh, and felt the season change even within the walls of our home.
“I really love your snowflakes,” I told my daughter, smiling, as I ruffled her hair.