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First day of winter is anything but dark & dreary

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POSTED December 21, 2009 12:42 a.m.

This is not the darkest day of the year. It is the start of the rebirth of nature and one’s self.

Yet many see the first day of winter as a dreary time broken up only by the festive air of the holidays.

Sunday was a glorious day to end the lengthening of darkness as the sun was within hours of reaching the winter solstice.

It was just right. The sun warmed the last day of fall making it possible to jog without being bundled against the cold.

I took the same route I’ve taken for the last 21 months.

Nature was going into a deep sleep with trees, vines, and plants shedding leaves to get ready for a warmer time.

But that is not all that is reawakening.

Two winters ago, I’d jog by fairly new homes in distress. Many were vacant. Many had dead grass and weeds. There was no sound of hammers swinging with power saws playing in concert where developers were converting former almond orchards and pastures into houses.

Today it’s a different story as Manteca is showing signs of thawing from The Great Recession ahead of everyone else much like the early variety of blossoms punch a hole in the dreariness of winter skies ahead of the rest of nature’s rebirth.

There are more homes going into foreclosure but they are not staying empty for long. You would also be hard pressed to find dead grass and weeds rivaling General Sherman in Sequoia National Park.

There is a lesson we can learn from today. Just like the days are always shortest before the sun starts increasing the time it caresses the earth with its warming rays during earth’s 24 hour journey, it is also darkest before dawn.

Our winter of discontent – the collective result of greed or wishful thinking – will disappear just as the cold days and the fog will leave us in the coming months.

 Life is much like the seasons. There are good times where we bask in the sun and there are times we shiver against the cold.

We can get through the winter – and the bad times - by not being consumed by the dreariness.

It seems easy to say especially if you’ve weathered the economic tsunami better than others who may have lost their homes or who literally are barely hanging on. But just like the tree that loses all of its leaves, things will bounce back.

Even those facing a bleak future that may be in the process of losing their homes need to look at the situation for what it is. Winter will pass.

Spring and summer will return.

We stand against time, much like a stately oak. Eventually it all ends.

The harshness of winter doesn’t kill the oak tree. It comes back even stronger the next spring.

The same is true of the human spirit.

The only thing that makes the gloom of winter bearable is your attitude.

Take a look around you.

This is a beautiful day from the early morning fog embracing naked almond orchards to the winter chill that sends roses into a deep chill.

It is that chill that helps roses come back even stronger as the days warm up with the approach of spring.

It is why I’ll shop for bare root roses this week while almost everyone else is trying to wrap up their Christmas shopping.

Bare root roses in deep December look like nothing but deadwood with thorns that cut and hurt. But as the winter loses it grasp and you take care to make sure that it roots are firmly grounded, it will start producing little green shoots of hope that ultimately form sturdy branches that provide fragrant and beautiful blooms.

Yes, roses take a lot of work to make sure they repeat bloom throughout the year. The joy is tempered by the pain, but the beauty can’t come without the thorns. It is no different than life.

And just like roses, we not only will awaken from the winter but we can come back even stronger.





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