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Enjoying Winters in Harbor Country

Many people feel that winter seems to last forever, especially after the holiday season has come and gone. When February finally trudges through, it’s as though the snowflakes have lost their whimsical charm at Goldberry Woods. Holiday decorations having long been packed away into attics, there’s not much left to visually fill the landscape aside from the trusty evergreens.

Even Lake Michigan has taken on a gloomy appearance. It stretches off into the distance, shrouded in a dangerous ring of ice. It’s a cold bath no one dares to enter even as it calls your name, reminiscing about the many summer evenings you’ve spent jumping through its waves which now loom treacherously high before they slam into the shore.

As the temperatures drop, it’s hard to remember how beneficial this slower season can be. When we rush inside, fingers freezing because we ignorantly thought that we wouldn’t need gloves for just a few minutes, the only thing on our mind is how glorious a bit of sun would feel. In fact, our saving grace is the brimming fireplace, which casts a warm glow over the living room.

We wish we could be as excited as the dogs who gallop through the fresh snow, or the kids who hurriedly pack snowballs in preparation for battle. Though the hot tub and heated pool tucked behind the barn do seem rather appealing, as the winter garden grows in the warmth that evaporates off of its waters.

When we finally dare to venture out and check the storage container we find snowshoes and sleds, which serve as a nostalgic glimpse into our childhood. Something in the winter air nudges us to race down the hill beside our children, holding on for dear life because our backs don’t recover as quickly as they used to. Yet when we come to a quick stop at the bottom, we are pleasantly surprised that the only thing we feel is a warm glow.

And after that we settle into the couch with undoubtedly our third cup of coffee for the day. Our gears start cranking and we begin to see things in a new light. We see that winter grants us time to rest; it is a season for reflection, where we can focus on what matters most and heal ourselves.

At Goldberry Woods we use the extra time to finally pour over all of our notes that have accumulated over the course of the year. In these slower months we grow our business and our plans for the future, we brainstorm new experiments for the garden and read up on what our fellow farmers are up to. And, most importantly, we rest. As winter drags on, our calluses slowly disappear along with our tans, which were never that impressive to begin with no matter how hard we tried.

While rest is all important, it is not always beautiful. For on the farm, it can be sad to watch our plants slowly stop producing, losing their foliage as cold fronts creep in. After the first frost the fields really transform: black plastic peeled back to reveal the frozen soil, hoses coiled tightly and tucked into the garage where they wait out the frost.

At first glance it looks like there is no trace of the vegetation that used to thrive in our fields. However, when you take a closer look you will see how the slower season is vital to all living things. A season of rest gives the plants time to establish new roots, like the freshly planted garlic that uses the colder months to establish itself below the ground. Winter also allows certain flower seeds to stratify. Settling up flats of flower seeds in the cold replicates an important part of their germination cycle so they are ready to spring forth when the weather warms up.

So while winter has a blustery exterior, it is just as valuable as summer when it comes to the cycle of life. A season of rest lets both us and the plants destress. Just like soil, our bodies need a break to function properly.  ~ Sydney Moore

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