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Winter (Harvest Moon)

Winter (Harvest Moon)

I’ve visited a few farms in my time, but there is one in particular that not only crafted some fond memories, but also has shaped many of the experiences I’ve had since then.  This farm had previously been abandoned, but an ambitious young farmer moved in and livened the place up quite a bit, turning it into a very successful agricultural operation.  Crops grew plentifully, exotic fruits were gathered in Spring and Summer, and incredible quantities of milk and eggs all year round.  In Autumn, poisonous mushrooms and the rare Full Moon Berry were gathered for use in medicinal research.  For more immediate medicine, herbs were gathered in a cave during my favorite season here: Winter.

Winter is a special time in this little town; while Winter is, at worst, a time of mere inconvenience in our world, in an agrarian society such as this, it is a time of suffering.  Crops do not grow, nor does grass with which to feed one’s livestock.  Snowstorms are quite debilitating to fence posts, and wood can be difficult to gather both for repairs and for fuel with which to heat one’s home.  Resilience and ingenuity are absolute necessities in order to survive the cold season in these parts, but out of such things, a great beauty is born.

The farmer and I awoke one morning to find that it was snowing, and we knew that a hard day’s work was ahead of us.  The sky was dark, and it had cast a gray curtain over everything below.  The snow was laying upon the fence posts, some of which were worn down.  I quickly darted about the ranch, surveying the damage, but all the while processing the glorious visual banquet bestowed upon me.  The shrubs were covered in snow, and the small ponds were all iced-over.  The hollow tree had snow around its edges, but none seemed to fall inside of it.  The mysterious garden’s flowers still bloomed bright pink, despite their frozen blue leaves.  I hopped back inside the fence to finish its repairs, while the farmer took care of the livestock.

Once we’d finished, he set out to chop some firewood, while he sent me into town to pick up a few supplies.  The town was also blanketed in white with a shade of gray.  Most everyone was inside, staying cozy by the fire.  I headed back down the road to the ranch, bringing the supplies to the farmer.  He decided that we should gather more firewood, as well as some herbs, so we went up to the mountain, which was, perhaps, the most glorious experience of all.

It was getting a bit later in the day, and everything had a bit of an orange hue added to the whole mix, creating an indescribable effect.  In the village where I grew up, the sky paints the land below all manner of different colors, but I’d never seen anything quite like this before.  The fishing pond was completely frozen, and snow was laying on nearly everything.  Strangely, some of the larger trees had not lost their leaves, which were now covered in snow, with a blue and white dynamic that I found intriguing; I’ve only ever seen snow laying on leaves within trees once, and it was quite recent.  The farmer headed into the cave, while I scouted the area for more lumber.  I noticed that the hot spring was still liquid, and its waters were of a light green in this bizarre evening light.  Gathering what I could, I met him at the entrance to the cave, and we headed back to the farm along the road at night.

I headed back into town alone to enjoy the night scenery, twirling in the falling snow.  A few lanterns were lit, and the snow falling around was breathtaking.  Everyone was either inside their respective houses or at the tavern, so it was almost like being in another world all alone; a plane of existence lost to time itself.  I did not stop into the tavern, but it was the only building with a light on, and that scene was enchanting to behold.  After I had finished my capricious wanderings, I headed back to the ranch, and entered the house to warm up a bit by the fire before going to bed.

Winter is a very powerful season; it defines the durability of civilizations that still interact with nature, much unlike our own.  Sure, it affects us by making travel a bit more difficult before the trucks clear the roads, or occasionally rendering modern conveniences, such as electricity, inactive, but we suffer no risk such as the death of entire cities from starvation or freezing to death.  It is only when immersed in such a thing that you get to truly know the Winter.  I dearly loved the season even in my early youth, but until this voyage, I had not learned to truly respect it.

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