My friend Becky went with me yesterday to lend her hand on my current remodeling project at my new property. “This is such a beautiful road,” she said as we drove in my truck past the dairy farm and pastures. It’s winter in North Florida and the branches of the trees are bare, the ground covers ranging from brown to rye-green. As I thought about what this scene looks like in spring and summer, I was seized, at that moment, with a need to apologize for the relative barrenness of the view—as if I were responsible for the appearance of my tiny neck of the woods!
“Oh, it is so beautiful when the trees are leafed out,” I muttered, half in earnest. For, truth is, I love the bare winter branches, the way they sweep the sky, especially at night.
Becky was not swayed by my silly sense of shame. “I love the trees in winter,” she said. “You can see so much more—like the mistletoe in the trees—that is completely hidden the rest of the year.” And, indeed, to our left were pecan trees loaded with round clumps of mistletoe, invisible a few months back.
In winter, just as in the latter stages of life, I find clarity, a crisp vantage point, that is more difficult to achieve when life is full of spring-green and oozing sap and the crowns of flowers. In this part of the world, where the land hovers at sea level and tall trees thrive, we are not granted wide vistas, and big skies don’t prevail. But, in winter, I can marvel at the moon, the stars twinkling through the branches, and the vibrant warmth of a sunset. And I am called to myself in these years to find what has been unseen, to discover, with a keener view, what is most important to me. It’s easier when the branches are bare, when energy is reduced, when life is at a premium.