Winter clears our eyes for the beauty of summer


There is a specific sound featured in the soundtrack of my youth, lingering in my ears, rooted deeply in my memory, which transports me instantly to a time lessons seemed more precise and days less rote.

Unfamiliar to many with the misfortune of pavement playgrounds, it is the type of sound that you can smell, a sound that paints a clearer picture than momentary presence allows. A sound so defining it becomes a characteristic.

The beaten paths of my childhood all had peculiar gifts for the senses, from silken rye grass in spring to the warmth of freshly tilled cornrows and the aroma of sap dripping from the pines. Blindly I could smell my way through the garden, not requiring sight to dictate the row that tickled my bare feet.

Running where there are no streets and listening to the beauty of a solitary belonging strengthens the senses in ways only Mother Nature can. A child learns what it means to find one’s way without digital guidance and the interference of smothering crowds.

It is the sounds that reign over most of my memories. The birds singing their farewell at the first freeze, the deep motor hum of a tractor sweeping the rye grass into food for winter’s pantry, and the crackle of wood as Daddy poked the iron into the fire to heat an old house full of opportunity for dancing wind. No more remarkable symphony has graced my ears even after all these years. Every childhood has a melody; mine was self-sufficiency.

The crisp surrender of frozen grass underneath my worn-out boots seeking paths no longer cleared by summer journey signaled the beginning of damp Southern winters. Although short in days, winter seemed eternal to a child most comfortable in the thicket-lined woods’ unconditional acceptance.

The climbing branches no longer bent to my hands; instead they often served as host to hanging crystals of rain that failed to reach the soil. The whip of a well-thrown fishing line faded into the sounds of chattering teeth and zippers sticking in old coats.

Winter wasn’t my ideal season, as it required shoes and a stillness unwelcome to a busy soul. Growing up amid the pines, many find it hard to breathe when their feet can’t puncture the soil. Although a prohibitive season, it still sheltered my favorite sounds.

The tin roof had a soft whistle when winter winds sought warmth. The old house seemed to mourn as it creaked and popped in search of the summer sun.

Whenever I feel a familiar chill of summer’s escape, those sounds crescendo into a chorus of comfort. The fire crackling reminds me of a hand reaching toward the fire to warm his children; the distant hum of an old tractor reminds me that land still provides; and the birds singing their finale until spring sets their stage and signifies the importance of accepting change.

Restrictive shoes, shorter adventures, and yearning for the lakes to re-open for a swim made it a season of great discontent. I never expected it would be the one that resonates the most in adulthood. It was possibly because winter made me cherish the velvet feel of rye grass and the welcoming arms of a climbing tree.

We all require winter to appreciate the freedoms of summer, no matter if it is alongside the sea grass or underneath the pines that touch the sky. Walking through winter clears our eyes for the beauty of summer and reminds us of the necessity of change.

Cherimie Crane Weatherford is the owner/founder of SugarBelle, a long-time real estate broker and a lover of the obscurities of southern culture. To contact her with praise and adoration, email CCWIslandNews@gmail.com. To complain, call your local representative.

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