Okay, I know this winter weather wasn't warm. We, too, put on the layers, froze while we worked, and desperately wanted to go back inside. So, no, typically Wisconsin winters would not be described as warm. But, hear me out. Here I sit, at a snow covered Christmas tree farm, feeling warm. I can't tell if I'm warm from the massive bonfire or the thoughtful support of others. Actually, I'm sure it has to be both.
This winter has not been easy. At the farm, we are still working to clean up brush and diseased trees. Hence the large (safe and DNR approved) fire. We are digging up roots of stumps established before some of us were born. We are pushing ourselves and our time and our equipment to their limits. And we are warm from the work. We are warm from the progress. We are warm from the literal and mental flames that fuel us. This chemical reaction of fire that by definition transforms us into something else.
This winter has not been easy. In our lives, we are working to heal with loss. We are digging up memories that began the day we were born. We are pushing ourselves and our time and our capacity to their limits with even the simplest tasks. And we are warm from the outpouring of love. We are warm from the meals, flowers, and cards. We are warm from the reaction of so many to this difficult time. We are changed, and in this change we find greater purpose. We are ready for the renewal that spring brings. Our land is ready. Our hearts, though changed, are ready.
Togetherness is the best kind of warmth. It was without question my word of the year. It fell upon my heart before we began working together on the farm this winter. Before the precious and fleeting nature of being together would truly surface. Before togetherness would be forever changed and forever missing a piece. Togetherness has warmed us: before my dad passed as we cherished time as only you can when you know it's limited, and after as people showed up not to take his place, but to honor and remember him. To give him the beautiful, brilliant space he deserves.
I know now, regardless of the season, we are warmer together.