Eulogy for the Old Winter 2023

Lessons, Sorrows, and Pleasures of the Winter.

Editor’s Note: In early May, many of us gathered online (due to heavy rain) and some in person to celebrate the Maypole Ritual and the coming fullness of Spring. Once again, Kate Richardson offered her Eulogy for Old Winter. She graciously shares it here.

Let’s say Winter is someone you knew – born around Yule, in his prime by Imbolc, declining into dotage as the sap rose and days got longer. Now it’s time to dispose of his remains. But we shouldn’t just unceremoniously dump him out without a eulogy! Who was this past Winter to you? How did he treat you, your people, your places? I invite you to share comments in the chat. Really, who is the eulogy for? It’s not for Winter – he’s long gone and couldn’t care less. Spring is way too busy claiming life and the land to give a care. It is really just for us. And what do we need it for? It’s a moment to take stock – to honor the lessons, grieve the losses, and celebrate the pleasures that he brought us this season past.

In my neck of the woods, this Winter was not especially memorable for his strength or commitment. He arrived rather late, and spent his youth not too sure of purpose. I barely had use of my down parka, the whole season. By the end he managed to muster up a couple of good storms, but then gave up pretty early and tottered off in an impressive welter of mud. There was one last late hissy fit of a snowdump, and an encore on the mud, but the last frost in my parts is well behind us already.

Even so, he was enough to remind me of the lessons past Winters have taught: the importance of husbanding resources and energy. Guarding the warm places. Taking care of the people we love. The importance of kindness and generosity.

Winter often brings sorrows, and this one was no exception. Sometimes we have to struggle with things like the power being out for days, or not being able to get places we needed or wanted to go. There was illness and death, and often isolation. Hard things may happen in any season, but Winter’s darkness and coldness can make them harder to bear.

But he also brings pleasures that we can not deny. The transformation of the land under new snow, the way light sparkles off crystal flakes. The bracing challenge of outdoor activity, whether play or work, can be so joyful. Winter’s spare coldness makes warmth especially delicious. The times we gather with loved ones carry extra sweetness.

And the final, great pleasure that Winter offers, is the moment we consign what’s left of him to the water or fire, and clear the way for the offerings of the next season. Good bye and good riddance, for in the end, he is gone, and we all are still here!

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