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By Staff | Dec 26, 2014

Spring is my favorite time of year when life renews itself, throwing off the frosty shackles of winter.

It heralds the beginning of a new cycle and is a time when life seems to overflow.

From down in the marshland, choirs of frogs greet each sunrise with their age-old amphibian serenade.

Overhead, migrating waterfowl join the chorus, their songs a jubilation.

The Earth itself is part of this rejuvenation. A warm breeze carries with it the aroma of freshly turned soil. Each handful of moist, black dirt contains uncountable billions of microbes, bacteria that are busily deconstructing organic matter, making more soil, giving the land its earthy fragrance.

And the flowers. As the days lengthen, my wife’s garden becomes a riot of color, tulips and crocuses who defy the frosty nights so that they can dazzle us with their splendor. The sweet perfume of blooming lilacs is one of the most intoxicating substances known to mankind.

But summer is really the best time of the year.

Summer is a time when life enters a phase of growing and nurturing. The days wax long and twilight lingers as if the sun were loath to take leave. The summer solstice arrives.

Fat baby calves frisk about in the morning sunshine as their mothers luxuriate in the tall grass. A father robin warbles mightily from a treetop, filling the air with a song of joy that is both new and ancient.

In the marsh, a mother Canada goose honks proudly as she glides across the shimmering mirror of water, a string of chubby gray goslings in tow.

Farmers are at their busiest now, making the most of this warm and glorious season. What fragrance better portrays summer than that which arises from a field of freshly cut alfalfa?

When they gather, farmers may speak either ill or good of rain – depending on whether or not they have hay down.

Their children play in the cool recesses of the grove, squandering this time as if there were an unlimited supply of warm, lazy afternoons.

But fall is truly the choicest time of the year.

Fall is the season of harvest, a time for gathering in against the future. September brings the autumnal equinox; the days swiftly grow shorter.

The trees are putting on their best show now, splashes of ruby and gold against the sapphire dome of the sky. The evening air has a definite crispness and sound seems to carry farther.

A freight train laden with fall’s bounty blows its mighty air horn; the lonely wail can be heard across the miles, a mournful hymn punctuated by the “clack, clack” of wheels upon rails.

A neighbor harvests his soybeans in the gathering dusk, his gigantic combine belching a cloud of dust that hangs in the tranquil air. I hear the whistle of wings and look up in time to see a flock of teal streak over. I watch them as they swiftly shrink into specks against the southern sky.

But winter is truly the finest time of the year.

Winter is a time when the sun becomes a snowbird, spending most of the season in warmer climes. My only company when I perform my morning and evening chores are the stars – ancient sentinels who look down upon me, cold and unblinking, across the unfathomable light years.

But winter is also a time for celebrations, of family gatherings and sumptuous food and jovial company. Nothing is more delightful than coming in from the cold and being greeted by a wall of luscious aromas emanating from a steaming, bustling kitchen.

In my opinion, this simple pleasure is one of civilization’s finest achievements.

And winter is also a time for rest. It’s a time for early bedtimes, as though some forgotten instinct is entreating us to hibernate. The rhythms of life slow.

Each night, an airplane wings its way over our farm on its scheduled voyage to somewhere. Sometimes I’ll lay quietly next to my sleeping wife and await its arrival. I’ll finally hear it coming and can detect the shift in tone as it drones on past.

I think about how lonely it must be up there in the cockpit, to be awake while others sleep, to tunnel through the infinite blackness of the winter night. I wonder if the pilot ever thinks about those below.

I imagine his perspective of the dark planet that lies slumbering beneath him, frozen and silent, covered by a flawless quilt of snow. I push these thoughts aside, snuggle up to my wife and pull the covers closer.

And in the end, Earth and I both find rest and pass the long winter night dreaming of spring.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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