The leaves are mostly gone now and the trees stand along the edge of the fields like an army of gray soldiers. They're ready for winter's onslaught-and they don't bundle up.
We humans add layers of clothing during the cold months but trees stand there naked, surviving the snow and ice with a kind of steadfastness. This is a long season in northern Michigan, some say the longest.
By February it will seem like forever and the end won't be in sight. But the trees are in sight, standing along the edge of the fields, and I stare at them with gratitude and yearning. They know something that I often forget this time of year, that the icy grip of winter will finally ease, that the days will lengthen.
Peering through their bare branches, I feel as if I can see into the heart of things. No gaudy colors to distract me from the truth-which has something to do with dignity and endurance. With trust.
The fields are white and the sky is gray. Temperatures are still in the single digits. I lean into the wind along with the maples and the oaks. This is how we earn spring.