~ Please enjoy my column for the Jan/Feb 2017 edition of the Loon Lake Times newspaper ~
As the great wintery blanket of white and gray envelopes existence here at Loon Lake, I find my days brightened by the parades of wild turkey, quail, and deer roaming the snowy streets. I am cheered by the bald eagles circling the lake, on the lookout for a critical meal and sturdy nesting materials. I am thrilled to celebrate with neighbors, sharing in the joy of the season. And I am awed at the sight of snow-covered pines, stretching as far as the eye can see.
I am thankful for the gifts life has issued in my first year residing at Loon Lake…though I can’t help but wonder how my “thin” Texas blood will hold up all winter long! Luckily, 3.5 years in Germany taught me about water-proofing and layering. In Germany I also learned a thing or two about cultural and spiritual reverence for one of the greatest hallmarks of the German landscape–one we also share here in eastern Washington–the forests. A German doctor once said to me, “We Germans take our troubles into the forest.” And so they do. Many families take a walk in the woods on Sundays, to leave their worries behind; to reconnect with one another, themselves, and the land that has sustained them through the generations. I absorbed this veneration too, which in no small part has led me to Washington. But I wonder, how do Loon Lakers feel about the trees that surround our lives?
There’s nothing like winter to reflect on the importance of trees. How would we survive without the gift of warmth by the firelight? What else could keep the snow from avalanching down the slopes? How else could we be reminded and consoled, but with the evergreen needles, that greener days will come once more. It’s no surprise that evergreens have worked their way into many wintery celebrations since time immemorial; as a symbol of strength and endurance, life, love, and joy.
This winter, as I’ve snuggled up by the fire while admiring my Christmas tree, I’ve been reading about the vast array of spiritual and cultural celebrations taking place across the globe, all winter long. Including Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Yule, Bodhi, New Year’s and Old Year’s Eve, Three Kings Day, Carnival, Valentine’s, and so many more; it’s exciting to observe that this is indeed a wonderful season of spiritual renewal in the eyes and lives of so many. One cross-faith source claims there are over 29 different holidays observed by 7 of the world’s major religions, just between November and mid-January…I can’t help but wonder if there are more. Regardless of the precise number, what a wonderful testament to our collective need for rest, spiritual and physical renewal, light, and merriment in the midst of winter’s embrace.
As you sip hot chocolate, share time with friends and family around the fire, gaze upon a bright moon or twinkling stars, enjoy an evergreen tree inside your home or out on the trails; I wish you love, light, peace, and joy however and where ever you celebrate! With evergreens and friendship in mind, I’ll leave you with a poem and my best wishes for 2017!
The trees breathe
And I may be
And the trees be
That we all
ElizaBeth Coira is a writer, poet, consultant, facilitator, and Loon Lake neighbor. You can enjoy more of her poetry and photography at ElizaBethCoira.com or HomeGrownSojourner.com.
Copyright ©2016, 2017 ElizaBeth Coira