Tree trunks and branches bare of leaves reach up to the crisp, blue sky, resembling veins and arteries on a body map. As I walk through the Englischer Garten, small branches and dead leaves crunch beneath my feet, shattering the cold silence. My exhale sends smoke into the atmosphere; in and out, I breathe the clean air of renewal deep into my lungs. I pause and look up to the sky. Clear, blue, serene.
As I continue to meander through the cobblestoned lanes that run amongst the bare trees, a clan of ducks, oblivious to my existence, wade past my track and make their way to a grassy hill. One considers me for a moment before continuing his journey with his mates, waddling along into the shadows.
A small river lies across the grass, where the brown water flows and washes everyone’s sins away. An elderly couple in layers upon layers of clothing sit on a nearby bench in silence, looking at nothing in particular. Time passes by, slowly, minute by minute. The sound of two unidentified birds fluttering away into the sky fills the vacant air.
I sit on a different bench and appreciate the silent beauty of winter. I think of how we shed everything that is old during autumn; leaves, lives, lovers. Yellowed leaves drop and float down to the ground, as gently as falling snow; never has death looked so beautiful. Old lives disappear into the darkness of the long, cold nights, and old lovers are washed away peacefully in the rain, leaving a faint impression of themselves as a smudge on the outside of your window.
Old lives disappear into the darkness of the long, cold nights, and old lovers are washed away peacefully in the rain, leaving a faint impression of themselves as a smudge on the outside of your window.
And once everything that’s supposed to be shed goes silently into the darkness, winter comes.
You stand among the ruins of the dearly departed, while a gentle but bitterly cold gust of wind freezes your ears and sends a rush of blood to your cheeks. The wind flows effortlessly through the bare branches and tree trunks, reminding you of the empty space that has been left by everything that is now missing. The eerie noise that the wind makes as it howls and continues to flow to nowhere gives you goosebumps. The bitter cold makes an old elbow injury ache, reminding you of how things that are forgiven are never really forgotten.
The bitter cold makes an old elbow injury ache, reminding you of how things that are forgiven are never really forgotten.
The longer you stand out in the cold, the more you appreciate the great strength of everything that survives the winter. You value the bare trees standing dormant, the hibernating bears and skunks and squirrels. The longer the winter, the more you grow strongly, silently, brilliantly.
Soon enough, you find yourself thinking less of what was lost in autumn, and more of what you’re about to gain among the brilliant blooms of spring. You’re still not too sure when winter will end, but you learn to enjoy its stillness and unassuming beauty. You realise that winter is a period of incubation – a quiet time of renewal and reinvention. You turn inward as the snow continues to fall and you smile; you’re at peace again.
The elderly couple who were sat in my midst stand up and walk back into the same crowd of strangers that they came from. I think again about those who are no longer in my life, and how they forced me into this winter, and I thank them. The silence and peace that now surround me have helped bring back to the forefront old dreams that have been sitting dormant in my mind for years. And I realise that just like the trees will explode into colour come spring, I will rise again: stronger, wiser, happier.
And I realise that just like the trees will explode into colour come spring, I will rise again: stronger, wiser, happier.
It’s been a long, dark and cold winter. My tears slowly dried up along with the rain and I now stand stoically. The ground was frozen over as hard as a lead casing, and just as I was about to give up hope, I felt the thaw, the ice shatter and crumble. The ground was released beneath me and I now feel it under my feet once more – steady and stable.
And as the ice continues to melt, the numbness in my hands begins to fade while the sun gets brighter and brighter.
I am ready for spring.
I am rising again.