Thursday, December 20, 2007

In the Deep Midwinter ...

Despite the cold wind roaring in from the north-east and freezing my face till my cheeks ache, and despite the clatter of a JCB just down the lane, digging trenches to fill with stones and drain a waterlogged field, there is a deep quietness about this time of year.

As I walk through the woods and between the hedgerows I can feel it. The restful silence of midwinter.

Tomorrow is the Solstice. The turning. Here, in the northern hemisphere, it is the sweet, imperceptible turning back towards the light. But for now – and for more weeks to come – everything feels quiet. Waiting. Hibernating.

Of course I know everything is gently ticking over. My blood still circulates and I am breathing. I know that deep in the soil the bulbs are moving. In another month or so the first snowdrops will emerge. Squirrels are still coming out, late morning, to scamper around in search of this or that, children still need to play and the birds, as always, are doing their thing. I did my 'timed tetrad visit' a few days ago, counting species around here for the new Bird Atlas. Yet despite all that, it still feels like Nature's quietest time of year.

As above, so below. Or rather, as outside, so inside. It is my quietest time of year, too. A hermit at the best of times, at midwinter I feel myself turn inwards even further, in towards myself, towards our life here in the cottage, towards contemplation, meditation, reading novels in the cosy warmth of the woodstove, playing on my computer.

I like the idea of a ritual to mark the promise of the returning light. So we shall have our private celebration, our small, midwinter feast in honour of the Solstice. But we long ago let go of that whole Christmas stress-out that so many people seem to get caught up in. Dashing round the shopping malls buying stuff? Forget it! It is entirely the wrong time of year for frenetic activity.

But the same mindless, ugly consumer culture that has turned Christmas into a shopping spree and a simple Christmas tree into a lawn full of hideous, plastic crap is the one that has driven a wedge between humans and Nature. If we were really listening, really tuned in to the energies around us we would not be hurtling around Wal-Mart. We would all of us, here in the north, be sitting quietly by the fireside by ourselves or with our loved ones, breathing gently like the quiet hedgerows, like the bare trees, like the silent, resting land around us, waiting for the light.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog. The way you express yourself is the way I would write - if I could write like you.
Anyway you make me smile and I am sitting by the fire with you.
I have a pile of books, my journal to write in, cookbook my daughter urges me write for family and just time to sit and be still.
I am looking forward to the winter days to rest and dream of my garden that will be created at my new cottage in the Spring
Best Wishes to you Ernestine

willow said...

You describe a lovely warm relaxing solstice and Christmas season.
I have picked a big bunch of greenery to bring inside and will be lighting candles tonight to mark the shortest day. Then as you say we can watch the days gradually lengthen and all the plants start to wake up. I can already see the tips of a few snowdrops, about half an inch showing above the soil and I'll be watching them emerge more over the coming weeks.
Have a peaceful festive season.

Ted Marshall said...

I agree with you. I've raised eyebrows at work this year by refusing to go to any of those terrible parties given by suppliers where you have to stand around being polite to people and being urged to drink when you don't want to.
A week ago, I had my overgrown garden cut back and as a consequence I have several beautifully fragrant branches of rosemary to decorate with. My ritual will including decking the house very modestly, some scented candles and at some stage some hot chocolate!

Kelly said...

Absolutely! How well you articulate my very own feelings about the season.

shadows and clouds said...

very well said!!! your way of doing winter sounds perfect! each year i am distancing myself more from the festive-plastic-mad-dash spirit ...this year i've made most gifts myself, including making handmade cards and handmade wrapping paper, it makes me feel far more in touch with what i'm giving, and why, and put lots more spirit into it. but your idea of sitting queitly by the fireside sounds perfect...this evening i've been quietly sewing by the fireside and it feels just right.

season's greetings to you, hoping that it's just as you like. :)

Beverly said...

I love your blog and have grown quite fond of you. However, I must say I love the Christmas season, telling my grandchildren all the traditions of the past, making the effort to be with my family and friends. And, the quiet, I only wish I could hibernate with the rest of nature, but babies are still being born into the world and I have to work and take care of the sick ones. I will continue to read about your world and dream. Maybe someday....Your blogging friend Bev