1 May 2023

Might as well post it here as anywhere, the 2023 edition of my eulogy for Old Man Winter:

It’s time to dispose of the remains of Old Man Winter, but we shouldn’t unceremoniously dump him without a eulogy! But really, who is the eulogy for? It’s not for Winter – he’s long gone and couldn’t care less. It’s certainly not for the benefit of Spring – they are way too busy claiming the land to give a care. It’s really just for us: to honor the lessons, grieve the losses, and celebrate the pleasures that he brought us this season past.

In my neck of the woods, Winter was not especially memorable for his strength or commitment. He arrived rather late, spent his youth not too sure of purpose. I barely had use of my down parka, the whole season. By the end he managed to muster up a couple of good storms, but then gave up pretty early and tottered off in an impressive welter of mud. There was one last late hissy fit of a snowdump, and an encore on the mud, but the last frost in my parts is well behind us already.

Even so, he was enough to remind me of the lessons past Winters have taught: The importance of husbanding resources and energy. Guarding the warm places. Taking care of the people we love.

Winter often brings sorrows, and this one was no exception. Sometimes we had to struggle with things like the power being out for days, or not being able to get places we needed or wanted to go. There was illness and death, and often isolation. Hard things may happen in any season, but Winter’s darkness and coldness can make them hard to bear.

But he also brought pleasures that we can not deny. The transformation of the land under new snow, the way light sparkles off crystal flakes. The bracing challenge of outdoor activity, whether play or work, can be so joyful. And Winter’s spare coldness makes warmth especially delicious. The times we gather with loved ones carry extra sweetness.

And the final, great pleasure that Winter offers, is the moment we consign what’s left of him to the water or the fire, and clear the way for the offerings of the next season. Good bye and good riddance, for in the end he is gone, and we are all still here.

Kate Greenough's daily drawings