As the seasons turn and we find ourselves outdoors in different ways I notice new delights – as though with each transition we are in a new world. New smells, new sights, fresh sounds. I have lived in Madison for almost twenty years and often joke that with each passing season I have to relearn the town because getting around is different from bike or car, my seasonal modes of transportation.

The seasons have a curious effect on me some years, most years probably, except for summer. Summer is home to my heart and bones. But something happens within me as fall approaches, shifts to winter and then to spring. Fall brings a very real grieving at the passage of summer. It also brings the comfort of going within, a quietness of the earth and heart – into our homes we go, longer nights – a reflective energy pervades. 

In some ways I feel a hint of grief with the passing of each season … the quiet that comes in the fall, the bright skies and brilliant white snow of winter, the life and freshness of spring. It’s almost as though with welcoming the next and the new there is a hint of saying goodbye to the last. The passing of the seasons requires us to be resilient in this way. It requires a certain mindfulness and intention so that we can adapt internally to our ever changing outer environment.

The other day I was out walking with my dog in an open field, big blue skies, snow still on the ground. It was one of the first days after a long winter where the sun felt truly warm on my face – a very welcome shift in the north country. The wind was strong out of the west, but it too was warm, lacked the biting edge we feel from December to March. As I turned down the path the wind caught me hard from behind, strong and steady, as though I could lean back on it and still be upright, supported, held.

The depth of this sensation permeated my whole being.

In a single moment I felt the weight and grief of this past year wash over me – a feeling that although we have been kept apart in certain ways, we have never been more together. A sense that what matters the most is to support each other and to believe that we too are supported – by each other and on a larger scale something much, much greater.

Sensory memories of fear and the unknown washed in – bleaching groceries in our driveways, the invention of a curbside world, working in a mask, communicating in a mask – everything about masks, perseverance, isolation, bubbles … words we’d rarely used before; missing the closeness of loved ones, businesses fighting to stay open, people peeking out again after what we may one day refer to as our long winter.

It all washed over me at once – the intensity, the beauty, this long road we’ve journeyed alone and together. 

I walked slowly, peacefully, with the wind pushing me from behind, almost an encouraging nudge to keep going, unmistakably maternal. To feel held in this way … a welcome comfort from beyond.

At My Back

Walking the other day

Piles of snow

And sunshine,

The wind

Driving hard out of the west.

Turning away from it,

A deep caress –

It held me from behind

Strong, steady.

A beacon from beyond

Reminding me that I am held.


Face to the sun,

Wind at my back,

Holding me up.

Holding me.