Our visit to the land this Winter felt obligatory. Second time around, it is becoming my favorite time of year to spend in Oregon. The cold, quiet mood of the Rogue Valley creates a warmth that welcomes every part of me. I wrote of this same feeling last year and it has become deeper still. I suppose this is the natural progression as a sense of belonging develops.

On this visit we spent countless hours resting by the fire, drinking tea and staring up at the forest canopy of the day camp we’ve assembled on our planned building site. A fresh blanket of snow greeted us at arrival and slowly turned from drip drops to ice and crunchy cold as our days of watching went by. Set on the backdrop of white, the trees seemed to stand more bold and tall; however it’s more likely that our appreciation is all that has grown. Amidst the cold blue mountains movement meant stillness to stay warm – exertion enough for wintering bodies and minds. Inward growth is what is tended to when the Earth breathes this slow.

On days when the sun made his appearance it was as though the resting forest opened just one eye. High up in the near one hundred foot canopies the birds stretched their wings and squirrels leapt from branch to branch. They remained only in reach of the sunlight, finding warmth in the rays of a seemingly magical world away from where we communed on the forest floor. We watched and rested, always remaining warm by the fire. Light fell through the trees, mist moved in and faded out and ice droplets glistened. This was all enough. To rise, eat, drink tea, arrive on the land … sit by the fire, watch, listen, sip, read, feel … return to town, supper, family … then repeat. It was a wintering ritual to end the year right. One that filled us up beyond measure.

When we return again the forest will be more awake and so will we. Plans to work a plot are still in the making. Preservation is an ever-growing priority. We’ve found more inspiration from our neighbor’s beautifully braided garlic, and our other neighbor’s keen eye for wild culinary mushrooms. I plan to take charge of a wood milling project to have a deck built for tea. And the cabin remains a priority for 2022. As we continue to ease in, a life of exploration and wonder is being made. Winter has been the gift that nourishes it all and I couldn’t feel more grateful than I do today.