This week's offering is "patience", a good choice when one is huddled in the depths of the long white season, beset by cabin fever and ardently longing for springtime. The word comes to us from the Middle English pacient and the Middle French pacience, thence from the Latin patiēns, itself the present participle of patī meaning to undergo, suffer, bear or put up with something. The various forms can be traced to the PIE (Proto-Indo-European) root pe(i) meaning to damage, injure or hurt.
In late January, snowy highland fields stretch away into the distance like a desert, smooth and white and sinuous in their flowing curves. On reaching the horizon, they reach upward and merge seamlessly with the wintery sky and drifting clouds that hold the promise of more snow to come. There is perfect trust in the elemental meeting of snow and earth and sky, and I watch from a sheltered place along the fence, my breath forming its own clouds as it meets the subzero air of the day.
There have been so many days this winter when we didn't get out into the woods at all because of health issues or storms, sometimes both at once, and we chafed when we could not. There have also been some fine adventures when we made it into the woods, left the trail to look at something, then found ourselves in snow up to our waists and floundering about on our snowshoes. The logistics involved in extracting one's metabolism from such predicaments are complex, and an almost balletic agility is required. It pleases me no end that I can usually (but not always) find my way out of such situations by myself, and with a minimum of fussing, cussing and contorting.
What I must do on winter days when we cannot ramble among the trees is cultivate patience and forbearance, try to be cheerful and rest easy in the knowledge that the universe is unfolding as it should, and springtime is already on its way. In so doing, I am emulating the patient cardinals who visit our winter garden. Clinging to a branch a few days ago, this one fluffed out her feathers and serenaded the rising sun. Her pleasure in the winter day and the pearly light was wonderful to see and hear.