It’s become sort of a tradition of mine to start off the new year with a winter hike. I like to take this opportunity to clear my head and center myself as I prepare for the year’s activities that lie ahead. Not everyone enjoys a wintertime hike, but as I mentioned in a previous post, for me, it’s one of the more interesting times to observe nature. The juxtaposition of living and deceased indicates how complex the world around us can be, and with trees clear of leaves, you can more clearly see the earth structures they hide when in full bloom.
On my winter hikes, I love to search out cold-loving plants, like wintergreen and holly bushes, as well as the smattering of fungi and moss found growing on the limestone rocks and fallen trees of eastern Kentucky. Even the boulders themselves present interesting shapes and colors as I meander along a forest path. The quietness of the world around me on these winter hikes allows me to take time to contemplate, meditate, and find appreciation for the things and people in my life.
Evergreens, in particular, provide something to be appreciative of during these winter hikes. Although we recently celebrated the evergreen during our Christmas celebrations, these hardy trees provide lush padding against the somewhat bare landscape all winter long. Evergreens are a steady reminder that we can find joy in all walks of life, even—or maybe especially—during seasons of rest and recuperation.
Just as these green firs grow alongside dormant maples and oaks and tower above sleeping wildflowers, reminding us that life still exists among the blustery winds of winter, we can find much activity to participate in on the farm that can motivate us for the year to come. Although the month of January is a welcome chance to put your feet up and perhaps take a relaxing vacation from farm responsibilities, you are no doubt eager to start ordering seeds from catalogs for this year’s crop or to construct a new outbuilding to support your new beef-production enterprise.
Even if prefer not to get out for a winter hike, I hope you find a spot on your farm, perhaps an old evergreen friend, that can offer you hope and goodness for this winter and the year to come.