The Hermit life: Saying Goodbye to Darkness

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I live, write and mother from “God’s County.” There’s even signage on our back road one-lane highways to prove it.

Yes, I’m a cheese eating, Packers and Brewers cheering, God-fearing Wisconsin girl through and through.

While I’ll likely never leave the great Badger state, here’s the thing: February in Wisconsin is the table by the kitchen in the darkest corner hell.

February and I are not friends. It’s been cold for too many consecutive weeks and people haven’t seen hide nor hair of a human being not covered in marshmallow shaped coats or fur skinned hoods since Christmas. The icing on top of that lovely cake is the fact that there’s only light for about 2 minutes a day in February.

This February my four-year-old assigned animals that have the same likeness to each of our family members. I was given bear.

“Why bear?” I asked.

“There are mama bears in stories that get mad when others bother their family. Plus, you like to sleep.” She said.

There’s a burn, four-year-old style.

My overly-observant daughter has a point. In fact, if I’m going to survive a Wisconsin winter it would ideally be spend hibernating with my bear cubs. Unfortunately, people don’t take well to shut-ins and society expects me to change the children out of their pajamas for Mass and company.

Therefore, until I’m rich and famous and can snow bird on out of here for 8 weeks every winter – February is about surviving.

I can’t imagine life without the four seasons. Plus, having the cold tundra of winter keeps many creepy-crawling bugs out of our state by a deep freeze that kills them all off once a year.

However, the pros just don’t outweigh the cons when it comes to a Wisconsin winter. By the time Lent rolls around every year I often feel like if there’s another doom and gloom day in my soul I just may roll over and play dead until spring. Things are always the worst at the darkest hour of the night (or in this case, year). Thankfully, hope rises with the March sun. There may be snow/sleet/rain and hail, but there’s hope.

Last weekend my husband and I took a late-winter trip to Door County, sans kids. We hiked through the freshly fallen snow and bare trees to a violent and spitting Lake Michigan.

The trees were heavy and bent with the wet, sticking snow of a late-season storm.

They were my peers, the bent trees. Hunched over, naked and frail from a winter of coldness and little light.

A tree doesn’t turn from its source of light as we humans do. Trees search for the light and chose to grow toward what they know sustains them. They grow heavenward. In the cold bitterness of the darkest times they may bend downward but they survive because spring will come and they will bloom again.

With gratitude, I too know the story doesn’t end in February. Just when so many of my branches are on the brink of snapping, Lent comes and the pain is reigned in and re-focused heavenward. This carries me until the bloom of spring – when we are all resurrected.

It’s March and I’m ready to do just that, march forth. God willing, beauty will bloom in the chaos. At least it will be spring, and there will be light.

Copyright 2012 Holly Rutchik 

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