by Melinda Gallo

Basking in the winter energy

Now that the holidays have passed and the Christmas lights have been removed from the streets, winter is finally settling in. The streets are quieter, fewer people are visiting the churches and museums, and terraces -- unless heated -- are empty. For the last few weeks, the sun has been dominating the sky, not allowing a single cloud to form. Recently, the sky has been a light blue with a misty layer of clouds staggering overhead. While the sun is hanging low in the sky at this time of the year, the colors appear muted and the shadows much darker.

Living in Florence :: Basking in the winter energy

To bask in the winter energy, I visited Giardino Bardini where the wisteria leaves on the vines across the pergola have all fallen, leaving behind long fuzzy dark brown pods dangling from the branches. The silvery green leaves on the olive trees hide the green and burgundy-bottomed olives still clinging to twigs.

On the grass is a layer of mist that glistens in the sun far from the scattering of dark brown leaves stuck together from the chestnut trees next to the stone wall. The camellia bushes are brimming with buds. So far, only a few camellias have blossomed brightening up the thriving green bushes with bursts of pink and white. 

I came across only a handful of roses, but many bright yellow jasmine blossoms surging from the long branches hanging down stone walls. Mother Nature’s greatest treats were the three irises (one white and two purple) in full bloom along the steps to the upper garden, which is closed to the public.

Even in the winter, Mother Nature shares her bounty with us, never leaving us with nothing to appreciate. As I stand at the top of the garden, I breathe in the crisp air and allow my gaze to find more beauty to appreciate. From this vantage point, I can hear the hum of the cars passing over Ponte Santa Trinita, the honking of a scooter, and the chirping of a couple of birds nestled deep inside the cypress trees. 

Some people may see the emptiness in the gardens, but I see the hope of more abundance to come. While in the winter many of the trees are bare and the rose bushes pruned so much they are like skeletons, I know that within a month or two leaves will sprout and flower buds will develop. Mother Nature takes her much needed hiatus to build up momentum for spring when everything literally bursts forth for us to enjoy again.

The seasons teach us how to appreciate life’s ebb and flow. I have learned to appreciate the time to rest and the time to grow. The time to give and the time to receive. The time to contract and the time to expand. Maybe winter is also the time to reminisce about the bounty Mother Nature treated us to last year and now to seek other gifts of hers to appreciate. 

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