Winter here in northern Minnesota can be almost devoid of color, like the face of a dead man. The ground and the water are covered in a white pall. The hardwood trees, their nakedness showing in greys and blacks, stand shivering like mourners around a cold grave. Even the greens worn by the conifers are muted, dulled by the feeble light from an iron grey sky. The colors of winter here speak of death. How can this cold stillness be broken? How is it possible that life emerges again?
But emerge it does in springtime. We celebrate this even before the first green shows. As the snow and ice recede, we look for signs of life, reveling in the breaking of tiny buds in the trees. We walk on the earth, noting when the frost has given way and we can feel the earth’s soft warmth returning beneath our feet. Although we still only see greys and browns, we know we will see the colors of life again soon.
The signs are subtle. A faint hint of green appears in the trees and in the grass. We note the sun staying just a bit longer everyday. We begin to notice movement again in the air and on the land as great flocks arrow north and animals cautiously emerge on the road sides, blinking at the newly bright sun. The trees begin to model their spring apparel, each with a slightly different interpretation of the color green.
And before we know it, we are surrounded by lush foliage as the trees and shrubs, grasses and forbs, sedges and rushes, mosses and ferns all compete to occupy every square inch of space, to grab every bit of available sunlight. Where does all this energy come from? How can all this life emerge from winter’s deathscape?
Perhaps that is why we endure our winters, if only to witness year after year this miracle in green.