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During Deep Mid-Winter's Short Days, Make Time for Dreaming

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, used with permission)

This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. There's nothing quite like the wind keening up high in the trees as an Arctic front approaches to let you know that winter has finally arrived. We'll break out our stock of ancient phrases and mutter things like "It will be no fit night to be abroad." as we pour a toddy or a draught of tea.

Deep mid-Winter is unmistakable, a time not measured by instruments. We feel it in our bones. Old bones especially. This is when many spry seniors begin to realize that even the best of exercise and nutrition and attitudes can only hold off the years for so long. And even the 30-somethings begin to yearn for their own younger days when air pressure drops and joints begin to creak and complain.The old timers have a phrase for it. "As the days lengthen, the cold strengthens." And so it is. Grateful as we may be for the comforts of enough wood, sufficient propane, dependable electricity to keep warm, this is the time we must also reflect that it doesn't have to be so; that for many even in this, the richest land, some will do without, and more will, if the storm worsens.

Welcome, then, to the dark of the year, when many with better sense than these frail humans have burrowed deep within their covers in their dens and won't peek out until the worst is past. I'm with them.

I do my best to hibernate during these shortest days, even though I have to stay focused enough to feed the wood stove, wind the mantle clock and fetch the dog's breakfast. But it's a fine season for napping, and conjuring up splendidly prophetic or downright silly dreams. Even though they were massacred a year ago by stray dogs, last night I dreamed that all my chickens were back, roosting in odd places and scolding me for my inattention. In the same dream, a young friend I worry about for his reckless living of late, showed up hiding in a bushel of root vegetables, and not looking at all that out of place. I can easily attribute both these images to the codeine cough medicine I'm using to dose my cold. But I also suspect a part of my brain is wondering just what the outdoors is up to out here on the farm while I'm "cooped-up" inside.

Seriously, though, these old, cold days mark one of my favorite times of year, the time between the arrival of the seed catalogs and that odd February day when, if the ice isn't too slick or the snow too deep, we can slip out the back door, scratch a little line in some bare garden soil, and plant peas. It's the "Not Yet" time when every green thumb is itching for a little dirt to poke a seed into. But not yet. So what can we do to make the hours go faster, the nights to shorten, the clock hands to magically slip ahead?

I recommend more dreaming.

Asleep or awake, it's only in dreams that I'll be able to feed those chickens, or ask Billy what the hell he's doing in my basket of beets. Or maybe I'll wander down some other road, Visit the Might-Be's, or the Coulda-Beens, or some new neighborhood altogether.

No tickets required. No expense. Just the investment of the time it takes to find a quiet space, maybe by the fire, still your busy mind and put today on hold. It'll wait, and chances are good you'll find something out there in the land of Nod that will make you smile, give you an image that speaks without words, or leave with you some truth to ponder.

Don't worry. Your heart knows how to keep beating, the clock will keep ticking, and supper preparations will be right where you left them. Soon enough, everything will begin to speed up, crocuses will pop out and you'll wish you'd remembered to have the mower blade sharpened. But not yet. Not yet, there is still time for dreaming. Look around for a cozy spot. Settle back. You are getting very...sleepy...

This is Marideth Sisco, wishing you sweet dreams in the land of Not Yet, somewhere out there in these Ozarks hills.