There’s something about the look of January—the freshness of it. Its nakedness mirrors a new beginning, a shedding of the old. After autumn’s brilliant swan song, what remains are branches baring their full glory; dried flowers and leaves in varied shades of brown, auburn, and gold; crunchy grasses and ground, acorns fallen, the air bracing, sharp and sobering.

After one of the darkest years in modern history, January’s brightness is almost blinding. 

Winter is packed with metaphor: what is dormant is still alive, what appears dead isn’t. All is stripped bare to the structure. Light is different in January, bathing the land at acute angles, slicing through limbs like a skilled axman. During this season of short days, we actually see more clearly than at any other time—in the absence of leaves and blooms, we’re left with bones. In light of what was, we can see what is—the cycle that continues, even during the most difficult times. Nature adapts, lives on, and so do we.

In our first issue of 2021, our Wellness Issue, we encourage you to get a strong dose of Vitamin N. Being in nature is an optimal way to calm mental static and be present. Our feature story focuses on the South Carolina Botanical Garden, a horticultural gem so close that we nearly overlook it. Its connection and proximity to Clemson University ensure that the staff are well-versed in native plant life, as well as other nonindigenous species that dazzle. With miles of trails through woods and meadows, it’s an ideal place to learn, meander, and relax (“Southern Botanica,” page 78).

In her piece on regional gardens (“Winter Walks,” page 56), Abby Moore Keith writes about winter’s honesty. It is a profound way to describe this season’s forthrightness. Honesty is a gift—when there is nothing hidden, there is nothing desired. Winter is simple and unadorned, without apology. There is a frankness to this season that we all need and benefit from. Nature is a healing salve to the soul. 

As we look forward and plan ahead, let’s be calm and carry on—follow me outside.


Blair Knobel
Twitter / Instagram: @LBKNOBEL

Photo by Blair Knobel