Usually I’m the first to sing winter’s praises. I love the stillness of the season, the beauty of bare branches, the way the cold reduces things to their essence. And as a writer, winter holds other charms for me as well. I call it my “hunkering down” time, when everything goes quiet, and all things seem possible, and I can dive deep into a story.

But this winter I’ve been ambushed by a whole host of life challenges, and new writing — even old writing — just isn’t possible most days. I know things won’t always be this way, but too often I’m just trudging through this winter, longing for signs of spring.

So you can imagine how happy I was to see these in my garden:

The first snowdrops

Some stalwart pulmonaria (aka lungwort, Jerusalem cowslip, and spotted dog)

They’re living reminders that no winter lasts forever.