Sunday, January 6, 2019

Darkness upon us


The real test over how well you weather the winter season is not November - December, when there are lots of holiday lights, parties, gatherings and shopping to keep you busy, happy and over-scheduled. No, it's what happens after that, in the dark and cold of mid-winter, with its short days, long nights and lack of holiday songs and lights,  that separates the hardy from the tender. It's been known to drive some folks mad...but for those willing to lean into those days -- to clarity.

I've noticed most people here in the PNW still have all their Christmas lights up. Maybe they'll take them down this weekend, or later this month, meaning we're truly heading into the darkest time of the year, both mentally and in the light our physical eyes perceive (because although we are actually adding roughly an extra 30 seconds of light each day now that we're past solstice, it doesn't add up to much just yet).  

I have never minded this kind of darkness. When I lived in the San Joaquin Valley, one of my favorite times of year was when the Tule fog rolled in thick and stuck around. Many days it never even cleared -- it was pea soup in the morning, more the thickness of a clear broth at lunch time, and then back to pea soup by about 4 pm again. It was a great time to stay indoors, light a fire, crochet, and listen to music or read. 



It was also a great time of year when I worked at the winery. We'd get stormy days, early on, when we'd have maybe two or four customers visit us over the entire 6 hour period we were open. I loved those slow, catch-up days because they could mean doing tasks I'd never have time for on busier days, or better yet, spending time getting to really know my coworkers as we chatted to pass the time. 

The slow, dark days of mid-winter are a time of hibernation, of incubation, when dreams began to take shape and you feel the new year beginning to take form in terms of goals, ideas and dreams. It is a time for patience and a time for thought and prayer. But without it, you risk just sort of launching into spring without any idea of what needs to stay in your life and what needs to go. It's no coincidence winter is a time when many of us clean out our closets. We're sorting through what works and what doesn't work anymore, both in what we've accumulated in terms of material goods as well as, on the emotional side, what we've accumulated in the form of relationships, habits, ideologies and desires. 

I like to think that when spring finally bursts forth into flower and sun, that I'll have a pretty good idea of what I want out of 2019, what I expect of myself, and what I'm ready to let go of. But without pausing to reflect on those things by using the dark days of mid-winter to sift, reassess and plan, it's all one long, endless road with no turn-outs or rest stops.

Not my kind of journey at all. I think the seasonal darkness has it's own set of special set of gifts it offers, if we're willing to accept them on their own terms. The greatest of which is that when darkness is prevalent, we have the ability to see our own light within much better.




6 comments:

  1. The winter photos are lovely. Our "winter" arrived a little late again. We had very cold temps and now the storm door has broken open with heavy rain and wind over the weekend. There is more coming. I love rainy days but I must admit I get a little too lazy. Yesterday we drove to Morro Bay to watch the high surf and enjoy a very good breakfast at Dorn's. It was kind of perfect.

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  2. I'm so happy to hear you've had abundant rain! Should make a good dent in the sparse rain years of recent past. I miss Dorn's! Always such good food and can't beat the view. It's funny, no one stays inside or does anything different in the rain here, they just carry on. It's taken some getting used to, because I'm used to having lazy days until the rain stops and I can get back to outside chores. But if I did that here I'd be lazy until May haha.

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  3. I agree with you about the short, dark days. It's a time of rest and recharging. Just like we need night as much as we need day, I think we need this winter season. I just wish it wasn't so darn long in my part of the country.

    And I agree about the rain. In Ohio, if we were to stay in every time it rained, nothing would get done! It rained a few times when we were in Arizona, and it got a lot of media attention. When it rains in Ohio, it's just another day.

    This will be a good time for you to rest your leg and let it heal. I've been in an aircast and walking boot in the past and know how it feels. As an active person, it felt like pure torture. But it is only temporary. Now is the time to pamper yourself. Stock up on good books, DVDs, warm soups, teas, then kick back and relax. By spring you should be good as new.

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    1. Oh Molly you are so right. It IS torture when you're used to being active. We had some great sunny days last weekend -- perfect for HIKING -- but of course I had to pass. I'll bet you are really missing Arizona about now, it's the nicest time of year there. Any plans to head down there again?

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  4. It feels a bit more like winter here with the rains again, and sunny cool weather in between. But I see pics on Insta of Vermont and SO MUCH SNOW and it looks pretty wonderful, like permission to stay inside and cozy up. Alas, here winter means the weeds are growing faster than I can keep up!

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    1. I'm glad you're getting all that Pacific rain...when the Central Coast of CA gets rain, it dries out up here and is sunny! We've had some glorious days this week...60 degrees and sunshine. A lovely break from gray skies and rain.

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