In the lifecycle of vines, there are times of dormancy and times of blooming. There are also the in-between phases, the slow but steady emergence back into the world bud by bud, leaf by leaf. If you work in the world of wine, you begin to recognize the patterns of nature, and if you are anything like me (with a real flair for romanticism), you begin to subjectify them as a reflection of your own inner realm.
This year, more than ever, it is apparent to me that we are in our own prolonged dormant stage, a worldwide pandemic thrusting us into a painful hibernation. It has felt like a year of winter, an unrelenting freeze that has stripped us of ourselves, and left our arms barren from the absence of each other. We have lost time and togetherness, freedom and in-person friendships. Trapped beneath this thick sheath of stagnancy, it has felt impossible to even imagine what will rise out of the ashes of this brutal season, besides our own stupefied bewilderment.
Yet even so, a strange comfort has bloomed inside of me recently in the form of bud break. The vineyards are speckled green with the newly formed buds, awakening from their long winter’s nap. In their dormant state, the vines halt their growth and rely upon their carbohydrate reserves from the previous growing season to get them through the winter. As spring arrives and temperatures increase, they are slowly aroused awake once more to begin this season’s new growth cycle. If this isn’t a metaphor for our own lives at the moment, then I’m not sure what is.
Within the mess of this year, with all of its hurt and its heartbreak, there is some sort of solace in realizing the purpose of our own dormancy. Like vines, we have had to muster the strength garnered from past experiences to get us through this extended winter. Dormancy has arrived into our lives more dramatically than ever, imploring us to face it head on. We have been confronted with pain and have been made to ponder heavy questions:
What does loss bring to our lives? How can it make us better?
For me, dormancy has meant uninterrupted time for reflection, and vast amounts of space to feel every one of my emotions throughout this chaotic year. And in a strange way, it has even made me grateful for the pain. Dormancy has given me the space to notice where it hurts, to recognize the immense loss of one another, and to realize how important that actually is. It has given me the gift of missing, of feeling my heart twist up in knots pining for the way things were. How lucky I am to have people/places/moments to miss, to already have experienced such fullness, I feel myself wither without them. I have found a kind of battered joy in my mourning, a soft glint to the darkness that makes it almost beautiful.
And now, bud break. The fresh green buds color the vineyard, a visible poem of rebirth. I am learning that there will be many winters of our lives: seasons of loss, seasons of grieving, seasons of stagnancy. But nature continues on in her wisdom, knowing that spring will come as it always does, and buds will burst as they always do. We too, will weather the bad weather, and return to the light of our own re-emerging. Loss is a season that comes again and again, it is true. But so is blooming.