November’s surly blast howled and mourned. For two entire days it stripped leaves, whipped through the corners of the yard, raising the dead, bending the living, and laying everything low.

The thinnest yellow light escaped clouds as I pruned roses and swept locust leaves. Golden confetti slipped through my fingers as I stuffed bags and worked against the wind.

My poet-child watched and made her observation. “The leaves are running away from each other Mom.” And so they were.

The next day we raked and gathered together. Raked and gathered some more.

Our backyard maple grieved the ghost of her lost leaves. Husband bound them in bundles and packed them tight. Daughters raced around the house, wild hair blowing. Shoes were tossed one last time into the grass. Bare feet and bikes in motion.

I glanced over the wall to notice one lonely pumpkin in the neighbor’s yard. A final glimpse of the harvest.

As I pulled vine from the walls, winding it around my elbow like rope, I remembered. Two months ago this vine was the source of a surprise. An impromptu tea party.

They came to me giddy, words spilling out all at once. “We set the table for you Mommy! Come see!” And there it was. A chair for me, white rose centerpiece, a plate of grapes, and goldfish in abundance. We drenched everything with sugar. It was sweet as sweet could be.

Now the earth sinks to rest. The mist curls high on the mountain. Wild November is nearly over and I can feel it. A snow is coming.

The yard is barren and cut low. But the bulbs we planted are only so far beneath the surface. The shedding of fall supports a deeper stirring.

As Edna O’Brien wrote, In a way, winter is the real spring, the time when the inner things happen.

I love this truth. This idea that winter is a season where real work, unseen work, even faith-work, is done.

By evening the wind had slowed and the world sat still, quieted by snow. It looked like mother earth had settled dust cloths over her furniture, protecting, covering.

The following afternoon new flakes swirled underneath a gray sky and I curled up on the couch. With my face to the window, knees pulled to my chest, I couldn’t stop smiling as I watched my little ones throw snowballs at their Daddy. He chased them. I heard the laughter. And in minutes, the snow came to life.

My girls placed a red and white striped hat on their snowman and I thought of Ms. O’Brien’s words.

Paul knew about “inner” things. He taught that the “inner” person is “strengthened” by the Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). And when Adam was “born of the Spirit” he was “quickened in the inner man” (Moses 6:65).

So I’ve felt the winds of change and I am thinking winter is an opportunity. A time for inner things to happen. A time for quiet, unseen work.