Once again, Nature has put everything to bed. The vibrant greens that colored our world from roughly May through September are now dulled as the trees and plants settle in for their long-awaited rest, or obliterated altogether. And it is a much-needed hiatus, considering how hard they work, not only to provide their own means of survival, but to purify the air we breathe and the water we drink.

I look outside every morning and see my gardens, flat now, lifeless, appearing only when Nature chooses to impart a milder touch to the cold air. What is still visible is now a drab olive color or brown, and not a single flower lingers. The first few snows we’ve had obliterated everything, which is a small blessing of sorts, as I’m not reminded as often of what it looked like just a few short weeks ago. But when those snows recede during a warm or rainy spell, I realize that I’ve come to love seeing the bare ground again, albeit its short tenure before the next onslaught.

Not long ago, I spent a few peaceful hours opening the seed heads that I’d harvested from my annual flowers awhile back. While it is time-consuming, there is something richly rewarding about breaking open those tiny life-filled receptacles to release the seeds whose natural impulse is to be set free to procreate. It is always a task I look forward to, as those tightly-packed clusters hold such great promise! And for all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never once been disappointed by what Nature gives me in the form of a reward the following spring.

Flower seeds are remarkable in the myriad forms they take, some, like nasturtiums, large and easy to handle, while others, such as those of the petunia, not much more than a dark-gray dust. Yet in the tiniest speck exists all the genetic material necessary to produce a plant of surprising stature and beauty. That a single thing that is smaller than the point of a pin can evolve into something so wondrous is nothing short of miraculous. And this is what I hold in my hand each year when I process the seeds for next year’s garden. It is, if nothing else, a humbling experience.

Yes, winter definitely has its downside and challenges. But I’ve lived here all my life, so none of it is new to me. I understand and accept how Nature works and know that there is a purpose to all she does. In temperate regions, trees have to rest for part of the year to recharge their batteries. Tender plants must die and decompose to make way for others, while the soil must also enter a period of relaxation as it renews itself to sustain another year’s worth of growth. It’s a process that has gone on for millions of years and that will go on as long as this great green Earth of ours continues its cosmic dance.

As daunting as winter in Maine can be, how fortunate we are that Nature makes it all so lovely to behold, to wonder at, and to enjoy!

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