A gust builds, the house creaks, and the heirloom wind chime that hangs out front rings with a violent ferocity, causing me to rethink my plans for stepping out into the night to take out that days’ garbage. The winter wind demands to be noticed. Cold, heavy air whips around corners and blows through bare trees, taking with it anything too weak to stand up to its bullying.
So, what does that mean for us?…Kindling! And lots of it. The returns from a short afternoon walk a few days later are not only a little fresh air and exercise, but handful after handful of small branches. Circling most of our large shade trees, I recognize how immensely gratifying I find this simple act of picking up sticks. It’s true, I don’t get out much. But maybe it’s more than just a lack of entertainment options during these winter months. Maybe the enjoyment also derives from participating in a natural cycle of growth, death and energy; collecting what can no longer be sustained by the trees to bring a little light and warmth into our home.
Taking stock of what I have collected, I begin to process the haphazard pile into something more fireplace-ready. Dry branches easily size down with a satisfying -snap-, and before long, my kindling basket is full. And as I return to the day’s other tasks, my spirit feels a little more full as well.