We’re heading into the dark season. Last winter was a particularly long and dreary one, in this part of the world, and it’s hard not to feel a mounting anxiety as the days grow shorter. I think everybody feels at least a twinge of melancholy this time of year, especially after a couple of years of isolation and worry. Even the impending holiday season can make a person anxious, with the weighty expectation that we should be cheerful.
Bleak light, short days, feeble sunsets and too much time inside all take their toll. But in the last few years I’ve been ok with it. Partly, I suspect, because I am slowly turning into Moley from Mole End. But much of it has to do with taking my dog to the same field every morning and with walking on the towpath every day. If you walk the same path every day, you’re alive to the differences each season. Of course in spring you hear the brightest birds and smell flowers and feel hopeful waves of warmth and light. But what I have come to learn is that winter has its fair share of beauty as well. The colors of decaying leaves and moss and lichen are richer by far than many of the bright colors you find in spring. And all winter long, in the passing hours of the day, you will find a hopeful light. All winter long the plants in my backyard are growing and sending roots deep into the ground, they’re forming buds to make the leaves that will be bright and glowing in the springtime. Everything is already waking up, if you know where to look. And the birds are planning something…
I know that some days (or weeks) more than others can be challenging for someone trying to be hopeful about winter. A snow day with no snow, a day of freezing rain or heavy never-ending grey clouds. It doesn’t take much to make a person feel down, to feel Under the Weather. But then you’ll come to a morning where the light asserts itself against a heavy slatey sky. A ring of dawnlike pink will circle the dark horizon, even at midday. Or silver light will rise above the heaviness, ringing in the pale bare branches of the sycamores, or the papery skeletons of summer’s leaves. On a day like this you might feel a swelling of hope and joy, just breathing in the light and the colors, the scent of damp sleeping earth.
Hope is such a mysterious emotion. I’m always a little impatient when people say you can make good things happen just by thinking about it, that if you have a positive attitude the world will reward you with gifts, that if you stop worrying about not having enough money and just feel happy, you’ll suddenly have enough money. (Usually the people who tell you these things have never worried about money, or happen to be paying you poorly for your work.) Of course the world doesn’t work like that. But in its own way hope is a powerful emotion. Hope is vital, essential to life. And it’s not the strange bright branches or the light under the bridge or even the busy and beautiful birds that make you hopeful, it’s something in you that responds to them. Which is an even more hopeful thought somehow. Who can explain it? Not me.
November is a season of giving thanks, and of course I’ve been thinking about the gratitude I feel to everyone who lets me share their work on Tidings of Magpies–their art, their photography, their words. I’m grateful to the connections I make as I contact people about sharing their work. I’m thankful for the conversations we have about creativity, about the world we live in and the worlds we create. Many many thanks to everyone who shares their work and who takes the time to read the work that we share–to the whole Magpies community.
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Beautiful piece! I love this time of year, too, for so many of the reasons that you point out. I find that it’s almost easier to pay attention now. In the spring and early fall, the colors are so amazing that they’re almost overwhelming. But at this time of year, you’re forced to pay attention to see the beauty. I love walking the same path every day, too.
The dark can be kind, time for reflection and looking forward. I find it easier as I get older, and I know it sounds trite but without winter we can’t have Spring. Keep being hopeful x