Today began with the soft whisper of coming summer heat. The last few months when I went to feed the horses at 7am. I have gasped in the cold air as I exited the warmth of the kitchen. I have been rugged up in layers, and wondering how to open little metal clips on the metal yard gates with gloves on or how to withstand the freezing touch of the metal if I don’t have the gloves! In short, it has been darned cold!

The days have been improving as the sun comes out sooner, stays up a little longer and mostly is able to at least balance the bitingly cold winds. Of course as soon as the sun slips down behind the hills then it is COLD again.

However, tantalizingly enough, a few days have been shorts and spaghetti-strap days, leading to pink faces, lightly browned legs and that scoop-neck tan-line. We don’t have the heater on in the bedroom at night and the garden has benefited from time and attention. In short, the winter is on the way out and the spring is right around the corner.

However for me, the real tipping point is when that morning air is softer, its touch like fine cotton and not burlap, although not quite silk yet. The promise of summer ahead arrives when the wind carries barely recognizable scents like faintly inscribed reminders of the plethora of opportunity, rather than the hard, crisp, single clarion note of the winter air. I believe in the coming warmth when I have only 3 cotton layers, when I don’t notice the cold of metal clips and when I can stand quietly by my little grey horse without freezing my feet in their boots.

Yesterday I rode Mariah, that little grey horse, from Cordes Lakes where I live to Arcosanti where my sweetie works. We met below the extraordinary concrete buildings, on the flat land beneath the mesa. The three of us walked down and across the trickling Agua Fria. Sitting on a rock, the sun coming through the still naked trees, we humans shared with our equine friend lettuce from the salad and a piece of banana. (Mariah turned down the orange and would have liked the almond butter/blackberry preserve sandwich but we didn’t offer to share that with her!)

Then we walked down the riverbed, the three of us side by side, along the wide, ancient swathe of the high-walled travel-way, on a myriad of extraordinarily colored rocks. Perched on the steep edges above us were old, old trees that have survived high floodwater, drought, development and falling water-table levels through the eons. Their roots are exposed as the earth falls away and their limbs twist and turn to continue to support the tree in its connection to life.

On one hand the trees reach upward to the sun, on the other they dig deep into the earth for water. So it is for me as the warmth creeps back into the mornings.

I love my house and the warmth within it, the home we are creating with the books, clay, music, art and apparently endless supply of olives and red wine. I settled into that embrace, sinking roots into the nurturing depth of stillness and calm.

At the same time, I lean up and out to the outside energy and power of the air, space and sun’s heat. There I can fly and expand, taking my chances in the world beyond the confines of the safe home/cave.

I know the Winter is not over and that Spring is a time of rapid change through a variety of weather. Indeed as I write this, looking out, the clouds have moved in, wind is ripping through the trees and there is barely a shadow on the ground. But, there is also a softness in color, movement and scent, as if this is a last ditch effort of Winter, habitual passage without a deep purpose. Summer is coming and this is the last kick of the outgoing.

Riding high on the mesa over the rough, rocky, ancient land where I am living; then walking, horse at one shoulder and partner at the other, down low in the riverbed, I felt the opening of new growth, from deep within the ancient history of my evolution. I know that I will survive the seasons, that my leaves will come again, my roots find their way to the water table.

This Valentine’s Day I gave David and the house a beautifully carved Balinese Quan Yin. She sits on the little wooden table that David made years ago. Miraculously, although coming together across many years apart, they match. The morning sun enters through the clay studio window, caressing her face with its grace and sweetness etched into the wooden contours, carved by a master’s knife, created from a block of teak.

The confluence of high mesa and its deeply etched river bed, ancient trees and trickling water, food shared between humans and grey equine, all beneath life-giving sun, is (oddly) embodied in this wooden statue. Grace, compassion, mercy and unconditional love – changes in the season, evolution of relationship, growth of each individual into their full truth and capacity. They all go together, fed by deep roots in the earth to the water, and high-reaching arms to the sun and warmth.

So as Winter begins its departure this year and the gentle warmth of the morning greets me in the horse yards, I am deeply aware of all that is awakening, and profoundly grateful for all that makes it possible for me to be here, now. The creative endeavor that is my life path will continue sustained by the earthly basics, nurtured by the qualities of spirit as embodied in the Quan Yin on the table in the morning sun.

May you also find your sun and water, high upward motion, and deep sustaining roots as you walk your path. May your journey be surrounded by love and compassion to and from your friends, family, strangers and most vitally, to and from yourself.