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Senior Correspondent

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.” — Ivy Baker Priest

While engaging in a leisurely Christmas Day conversation with my brother, Joe, one thing led to another and we found ourselves planning our spring vegetable gardens. We talked in great detail about varieties of lettuce, pole beans, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers and tomatoes. Should we go with raised-bed gardening, container gardening, or stick to more traditional methods? We wondered about the best way to keep the critters away.

It occurred to us that Dad could barely wait to get through Christmas to begin planning his spring garden. Here we were doing the same, jumping the gun to start our garden planning on Christmas Day. We speculated that Dad must be getting quite a kick out of our Christmas plot from his heavenly vantage point.

Dad was not a huge fan of winter. I inherited his strong preference for long, hot summer days, as did my brothers. If I let myself, I could pretty much hibernate between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.

A few days before Christmas we observed winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Each day that follows the solstice lightens up by just a few precious minutes, until it’s suddenly summer.

Alan Cohen notes in his book, “A Daily Dose of Sanity,” that Christmas, Hanukkah, the winter solstice and New Year’s nearly coincide. Each holiday in some way represents the end of darkness and the beginning of light.

Most of us have gone through lingering periods of darkness as we get stuck on one or more of life’s certain challenges. And, little by little, things begin to lighten up and our direction becomes a little clearer as a new season dawns.

In search of things to appreciate, I realized that the darkness of winter can bring its own gifts. Winter is a time when we can step back from so much “doing” and get into the spirit of “being.” We can remember for a time that we are “human beings,” and not “human doings.” The dark of winter is a time for human renewal, just as it is a time for plant life renewal. And of course, it is the perfect time to plan your best garden yet!

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