The Changing of the Seasons: What Plants Want to Teach Us About Winter

Nobody calls trees lazy for shedding their leaves and hunkering down when it gets colder. We all know that it’s exactly what plants need to do in order to bounce back in the spring, ready to drink in the energy of spring and summer. Plants know what each season offers. Plenty of sunlight and spring showers means growth and change, while dark, wintry days mean that conserving energy is in order. As our gardens snooze quietly under the frost, we ponder what this season is asking of us. The temperature is low, the ice and snow come and go, and hot cocoa seems to be the only drink suitable. It is undeniable: ‘tis the season to rest.

What are plants up to in the frosty months? As days get shorter, greenery switches to winter mode. Growing is no longer the focus; instead, plants prioritize strength in their roots. Leaves are shed, and the plant switches into a slow-burning energy using the nutrients that were stored all throughout the growing season for winter.

What if plants didn’t go dormant in the winter? They would not have enough food (produced from sunlight via photosynthesis) or water (it’s all frozen!), and they would have cellular damage. Their ability to connect to their life source would essentially break. A plant lays low in the winter because it is the only way to survive, and because it is flowing with the natural change of seasons. We, too, need these times of less activity until the sun comes back in full force to nourish our growth and creativity.

We love the four cadences in Rebekah Lyon’s book Rhythms of Renewal. A season of rest is an opportunity to get quiet, take inventory and reflect. Lyon reminds us that less rest makes us restless. A focus on restoring helps bring back a sense of adventure and exploration, with movement and time outside, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. The rhythm of connecting is all about our close relationships; the importance of being the friend you wish to have, welcoming each other, and forgiving each other. When it is time to create, you’ll find that you have more space for mental movement. Take a quiet stroll in the woods and let your mind wander. Let your creative voice take the reins and dust off your art supplies. Say yes to something you would ordinarily turn down, and open yourself to new grooves in your mind. There is truly nothing like reconnecting to that which grounds us, bringing back a sense of homeostasis to an overwhelming pace of living.

Take your cues from the yews and allow restoration to be part of your routine this winter; an extra hour wrapped up in a cozy blanket, a laid-back wander down literary lane, less tasks and more reflection. What are the most important lessons you learned this year? How did you live by your core values? What habits did you make and break? How compassionate were you to yourself and others?

Bonus fun fact as you experiment with Lyons’ rhythms: Forbes presents science-backed reasons to have alone time. It turns out that the more solitude we enjoy, the more we have “increased happiness, better life satisfaction, and improved stress management.” Read their article here.

Drink some chaga. It’s amazing for your immunity; some say it has the highest amount of antioxidants found in any food. Inhale, exhale, and go put the “rest” in “restoration.”

Until next thyme,
My Thyme Gardens

1 comment

  1. I like the way you compare our life cycles to the nature cycles as much as the way you describe plants and their physiology through the seasons, the words you use and the recommendation to relax and to give a break to our mind so that it can be recharged and more inspired to creativity or whatever else.

Leave a Reply