I used to think of January as the big let down after Christmas. It’s cold, everything is brown, the Christmas lights come down and we settle back into ordinary life. I used to think it was boring.
Now, the best adjective I can think of for January is “still.” As an adult, I’m thankful for the sigh of relief that January brings. The stress of the holiday season is over. I can sit back, catch my breath and start doing the important things that often get passed over in December because we’re so busy, things like reading to the kids every night and making real dinners with fresh ingredients.
I’ve also come to love the way the world looks in winter. There’s something beautiful about bare branches against a slate grey January sky. If you take the time to look up close, the frost on the ground is beautiful. Every blade of grass is coated in a shimmery layer of ice. Things do become more still. In the woods, the birds are quiet and the only sound is the occasional squirrel scampering through the dead leaves on the forest floor. I live in a house with two kids, three dogs and a rabbit. I’ll take quiet and still whenever I can get it.
My horses love winter. They prefer cooler weather, the disappearance of pesky flies, and the presence of the round bale in the pasture. Cold weather tends to make horses more energetic and sometimes harder to ride. Olaf is definitely more full of himself now that the temperatures are dropping. In the summer he plods along like an old plow horse, sweating and going as slowly as possible while still maintaining forward motion. In the winter he prefers to trot everywhere he goes, and he often gallops across the pasture and kicks up his heels, just for fun.
January is also the time when I start thinking about my spring garden. I walk around my yard and try to determine where to plant things when warmer weather rolls around. I look through seed catalogs and look back at lists I made last year of what grew well and what didn’t.
For some people, January is a flurry of activity, a time to start new year’s resolutions and a continuation of the stress that surrounds the holiday season. I take January as a period of rest. The trees and the animals are resting; the whole northern hemisphere is taking a winter break. I take a hint from nature and I relax too.