Winds of Change

These winds are cold, and they make me feel alive…

As December winds blow cold, I am becoming increasingly aware of transformations taking place in and around me. We are in a time of change, transitioning from season to season with each passing day. Trees have shed leaves, animals have prepared for the winter to come. The sun continues to rotate away from us until tomorrow, December 21, at which point our pattern of shorter days and longer nights will begin to reverse. As we become more in sync with the natural world, of which we are not separate from but a part of, we too may experience changes in both our personal lives and our relations with others. I find myself tuning into these changes, noticing the newness with each passing day.

I reflect on how the walk to the center in the mornings has transformed in a few months. Where the sunlight once danced on a sheet of morning dew it now sparkles in the blanket of snow. I think about how this walk will be vastly different as the lake slowly returns over the coming seasons. The foliage that once helped conceal the intimacy of the forest has fallen to the ground in masses. Here the bounty of the tree’s growing season will lay, slowly being recycled by diverse communities of decomposers in the soil over the course of the next few seasons. The abundance of forest floor foliage in the fall diverted my attention away from the absence of leaves on the trees themselves, their branches now dusted with snow. As my gaze makes its way from the ground to the sky, the forest no longer feels closed and concealed, but rather, open and vast.

Life at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center is changing, too. Packbaskets are packed away; Outdoor School and the school programs have wrapped up their fall seasons. The Fall Harvest Festival bins full of decorations have been returned to the attic, tucked cozy in there for another twelve months. Birdfeeders are attracting the local birds and birders by the half dozen. Daily chores expanded to include kindling preparation and sustaining a fire in Lower Classroom wood stove. The ADA– and stroller-friendly boardwalk trail has been reengineered and extended; it now runs from the wooden arch in the parking lot of the Center all the way over to Stone Valley Recreation Center. This trail was funded by Penn State’s University Access Committee along with contributions from the Shaver’s Creek endowment. Change is taking place all around us.

A season to remember is reaching the final phases of its current cycle. We are at a time where cycles are shifting and turning, where endings and beginnings are happening simultaneously. I invite you to take notice of how the world changes around you as the seasons unfold. Begin, also, to take notice of how you are changing, both personally and interpersonally. Embrace these changes. Life unfolds in cycles of decay and growth. With the holiday season blowing in on the winds, may the changes of each passing day bring you closer to the world around you.