Many North American indigenous cultures referred to the first New Moon of the year as the Moon of the Cold Exploding Trees.
This is a phenomena that happens when the temperatures plunge so low the water in the sap freezes, expands and causes the trees to burst their bark.
It is not a silent process. People who have heard it liken the noise to gun fire.
Indeed, many a wilderness dweller has been catapulted out of bed on a frosty night, thinking they were under siege, only to realize they were surrounded by trees exploding in the cold winter night.
Nature is incredible, adaptable and resilient…to a point. Sort of like the people who live here. For months we stay surprisingly cheerful, shoveling our driveways, donning toques, gloves and all manner of winter gear before heading outdoors, dealing with cars that refuse to start, ice on the windshield, eyelashes freezing shut and ice. So much ice. We wave at neighbours, laugh at the cold and view the snow as frosting on our fabulous winterland cake of life.
And then one day we fall on the ice, or our scraper breaks while cleaning the windshield or we just get tired of being cold. Whatever the reason, our inside happiness temperature plunges and it just becomes a bit much. We lose our shit. We burst our bark.
Some people go south for a holiday and litter Facebook with photos of snorkelling, surfing and sunbathing. They send up pithy quotes to their northern friends such as, “We woke up to six inches of sand this morning.”
I click the like button, turn up the heat and brew a cup of tea and question the meaning of life. I get through the bark busting days by looking at seed catalogues, reading garden books and doing that magic thing that we gardeners do so well…looking out at our snow covered yard but seeing the potential beneath it instead. You could call it Mind Melting.
Today the thermometer reads -30 C while the weather report tells me it is -40 C with the windchill. It is a Mind Melting Bark Busting kind of a day.
None of our trees have exploded, thank goodness. At least not yet. It is incredible to think how they adapt and more incredible still, to know they are in a holding pattern. Despite the frigid temperatures and their lifeless appearance, they are just biding their time until they reignite in a froth of green buds and colourful blossoms in a beautiful circle of life.
What hope. What beauty. What a remarkable world we live in.