This article was written for the March issue of Moonshine magazine online.
While most of the north is still wrapped in a winter blanket of white, here on the Gulf Coast there are already signs that spring is waiting just round the corner.
Waiting being the key word.
Though my toes ain’t froze and my streets ain’t snowed, I’m still anxious for spring. I note each tiny sign of impending primavera with a little heart’s leap for joy.
The red swamp maples are blooming. Joy!
It’s time to start putting out nesting materials for future pairs of mama and papa birds. Joy!
It’s no longer dark when I serve dinner (we eat on a three-year-old’s schedule, which is early, but I’m still counting this one)! Joy!
And so my mind finds two types of creative input from Mother Nature late this winter season: a.) Treasure the tiny things. Revel in the smallest details, and b.) Enjoy the waiting. The longer you have to hold back, the more energy with which you can spring forth!
These are not easy tasks to accomplish, especially in a world so full of over-inflated words and gestures, big screen TVs and high-definition speculation, loud and louder personalities. But, then, the best accomplishments are never easy.
Though the end of winter is when we long for color and indulgence most, through a little focus and restraint we can learn and grow creatively and re-ignite our artistic passions even before the spring sun begins to heat them up.
A few suggestions to get you going (or stopping, as the case may be):
- Don’t touch the instruments of your preferred medium for a week. If you’re a photographer, no camera. If you’re a painter, no canvas. If you’re a writer, no keyboard. Though most of us have been taught to work on our craft every day, a purposeful break will renew our perspective and appreciation for our work. Keep a journal of ideas you have, or write them down on scraps of paper, but refrain and restrain from action.
Take an extra hint from the animals, though, who have spent their winter break feeding themselves well and stockpiling supplies . . . when you’re done with your break, you’d better have materials ready, because you’ll be as busy making art as the spring animals are making babies!
- Refuse to accept that winter is a colorless season. Each time you go out, look for Roy. ROY G. BIV, that is. At first, brown, white, and green will be the only shades you see, but nature will give you an example of each color, I promise. (The advanced version of this little exercise is to grab a few paint chips at the local home improvement store, and grab one each time you leave the house. Find the exact colors on your paint chips, and you’ll train your eyes to see much more accurately.)
- And, as always: go outside. (Being in a car doesn’t count.) Your body needs the vitamin D from winter’s weak sunshine and your mind needs some space into which it can expand.
So, even if you’re bundled from head to toe and it’s only for five minutes, be in nature purposefully. You may not yet be able to DO anything outside, but you can be there and think there and let your heart beat a little there. You can relish the tension of winter’s waiting and delight in the dream of spring.
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