Waiting

At this time of year, day seems to last but a moment.  Mornings are inked skies pricked with stars and the bloom of ghostly streetlights.  Evenings fall without warning: look out of a window and the light has gone, before you can prepare yourself for it.  Inside, there is always a sepia tone to the daylight and never quite enough of it.  The darkness seems somehow thicker, as though I could taste it.  In the lighter half of the year, I revel in morning’s expectancy, but in this season, my body shrinks from stirring before dawn.

The first snow rides the coat-tails of a blazing sunrise in the last week of November.  Fat flakes tumble and melt into nothing.  A few days later it returns, a jumble of soft wafers, stinging hail and rain, leaving a crisp coating in its wake.  It lasts a night then is gone and later in the week the sun is bright, the light almost spring-like.  Now paths are rimed with ice, but some of the leaves are still hanging on.  One of the three wild cherries in the park always blazes last, vibrant against heavy frost or first snow, and this year is no exception.

November passed in a flash of spectacular sunrises and sunsets.  The sky bled colour: crimsons, lavenders, oranges and yellows at either end of short, grey days.  I remember little else.    Between obligations at work and home there hasn’t been much time for walking or dreaming.  I haven’t connected with that deep, fertile vein of darkness.  My box of dreams is woefully empty.

But some days seem to contain magic from the start.  Waking to a shiver of frost, I stumble out into a Sunday morning that freezes the bones.  I’m walking with my dog to my mother in law’s new bungalow and there, on a scrub of grass next to the Metro station a shape catches my attention.  A fox, ruddy against frosted grass.  It is 11.30 in the morning and he sits, unconcerned, as the trains trundle by above and we watch him.  He meanders along the grass, then sits again.  Reluctantly, I turn away, thrilled at the encounter.

The ground is littered with leaves, still green, that have shivered from the trees in the cold.  I can hear them crackle, like teeth chattering.  Six geese glide silently against a moody sky with a spit of snow in it.  Later, we visit the Christmas market in the old Victorian square and on the way, the snow begins again.  We wander around the carol-filled square as the light fades and snow falls and by the time we get home, the ground is covered in white.

December brings a level of peace.  Fewer obligations, more space for visiting with the earth.  The snow has melted away and left a frozen landscape in its wake.  A landscape that is still.  A landscape that waits.  On the winter solstice, there will be a birthday celebration.  Not for me, but for the sun itself.   For the earth that is reborn after the longest night.  It will be many weeks before the spring light comes, and that is just as well, I’m not ready to emerge from the darkness yet.  I have dreaming to catch up on.

106 thoughts on “Waiting

  1. To me it seems like winter cane out of nowhere. One day I’m walking around in unseasonably warm autumn weather, the next I’m bundled up trudging through snow. I suppose that could be a metaphor for life. And the beauty is, spring will always come.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Another lovely post. Glad you had the chance to write. Yesterday, I was driving back from Washington, DC to Charlottesville down Route 20 and saw large bird standing imperiously by the side of the road. As I drove closer, I realized it was a huge hawk, the white feathers on his thighs glistening like knee breeches from the late 18th century. He stared defiantly at me as if daring me to stop, his carrion momentarily forgotten. I wished I had stopped to take his picture. I figure he must be a spirit left over from the American Revolution, maybe a Hessian soldier who was POW in the barracks near Charlottesville.

    Like

    • Thanks Pat – there are so many moments that happen when I don’t have my camera – like the fox, but I wonder if those are particularly special because we can only remember them in our minds – your hawk sounds spectacular and like one of those moments.

      Like

  3. ‘My box of dreams is woefully empty.’
    It doesn’t snow in this corner of the planet. But days do shrivel into dark, ash-like berries. Wherefore my box of dreams is empty too? Why I am moved so deeply with what you did not say?

    Liked by 5 people

  4. As always, the eloquence of your writing is something I enjoy so much! To the point of when I see the email announcing your new post, I get quite excited! I was not disappointed. Your photos tell of a journey, as much as your words do, and it is fascinating to hear the similarities and differences from the seasonal experience that is going on here, across an ocean. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I once did a great deal of hiking in the mountains, always alone because,well, my friends just didn’t find the beauty and peace in the woods that I found. If this were forty years ago,and I was preparing for another long hike, I would ask you to come along. You understand!

    Like

  6. I wish you well in your solstice dream time, Andrea. This winter, the thought of heading for bed early is utterly seductive. Longer night time sleeps and vivid dreams, after walking yet again too long and too late, then staggering home through the frozen lanes in slippery wellies, to fall deeply asleep on the sofa.

    Time has shifted again…

    Like

  7. The sunsets and sunrises have been particularly spectacular this fall! We are waiting breathlessly here for snow, but I think it will come after this week. My head, as of this weekend, has decided it’s time to make serious progress on my book so I have no doubt that dream-box of yours will be overflowing soon! You know, something about the image of that frosted tree trunk puts me in mind of some forbidding mountain, with passes cut into the icy stone where one might make one’s perilous way up in pursuit of some impossible treasure… Or I might just read too much fantasy. 🙂

    Like

  8. Andrea, it’s lovely to read a post praising the beautiful and peaceful aspects of this season, rather than listening to people moaning about the commercialism and tension leading up to Christmas and, as always, you’ve written it so beautifully. I start to get excited round about now, knowing that the shortest day will soon be here and I can dream of all the spring bulbs that will be flowering in my garden. But, for now, I will just enjoy the beauty that this season has to offer.

    Like

  9. Nice post, Andrea, I always enjoy reading your words. Hibernation is a lovely, snuggle-down, comfy chair time, isn’t it? Half-lazy, mostly restorative, catch-up-on-sleep part of the year that I embrace.

    Like

  10. You’ve beaten me to it! I’ve been planning a post on the same theme after Christmas. Here’s wishing you some very positive dreaming during the cold weather. You need it in your cold northern climes. Happiiy we have had no snow down here in West Sussex.

    Like

    • I’ll look forward to your take on it Richard. It seems we’ve had less snow up here than in some places further south and we’re heading for a mild Christmas by all accounts, but I do enjoy when winter feels like winter, and if not snow, then at least frost, which we’ve had plenty of.

      Like

  11. I agree that one of the best things about winter is that we get unexpected treats, like the bright fox or that moment when the sun hits little snow crystals just right and creates a kind of rainbow. I saw the sun glittering off the wings of snow geese the other day and it stopped me in my tracks. Beautiful post!

    Like

  12. Oh, this is exquisite. I’m reading your post while it snows. The flakes simply tumble through the air. Perfect setting for writing, at least, in my opinion. Spotting a fox is magical in its own right, so even though you haven’t been able to do much dreaming, the dreams are happening all around you. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

    Like

  13. A lovely tribute to December, dear Andrea. I could almost see that fox, the way you described him/her. And I can see that while it’s been a demanding time for you, you have your finger on the pulse of it. You are mindful of both what you have been missing and what you are going through. It’s when we get so caught up or swept away without knowing that we have a problem, methinks.

    Like

  14. Andrea, it has been so nice sitting here with a cup of Rosie, nice and warm, and reflecting on the snow. (Now vanished). Without a shadow of doubt, snow brings beauty to our lives, seeing a Blackbird land on the garden fence in a explosion of white powder, the male Bullfinch foraging for food in the bare hedge.
    It also brings hardship and difficulty, can’t have our cake and eat it can we.
    Your post was most enjoyable (as always) and for me, it emphasized the need to balance the enjoyment and pleasure of seeing a fresh fall of snow, with help, for our feathered friends.
    Merry Christmas
    Mick.

    Like

    • Thanks Mick, yes, I think we can possibly appreciate its magic so much more because we don’t have those long harsh winters where the snow never stops! But I never fail to see the beauty in it. I felt ever so guilty the other day when I walked to the pond and scores of ducks came sliding towards me over the ice obviously hoping for a tidbit, of course I didn’t have a thing for them…

      Liked by 1 person

  15. As ever a blog post to warm my heart! Absolutely fantastic! A bit of snow really does stir the heart and I love the way you see nature and the land and how vital a link it plays in our consciousness. Let the darkness stay a while longer, it deserves our attention.

    Like

  16. Reading this post was like a journey through a fairy tale…you express it so well Andrea, that it’s easy to experience the cold, the darkness, the beauty of the winter land, miles away. And the pictures simply add to your lovely writing. Felt like I’ve seen all the seasons you’ve experienced, thanks to your vivid descriptions.

    Like

  17. Sweet dreams to you, Andrea, as the frozen landscape urges us to stay inside, to not ‘shrink from stirring’ outside, to rest and mediate and wait for the arrival of the goddess: Sun. Happy Solstice to you.

    Like

  18. I am walking the frosty ground with you, leaves crunching under my feet. Some of your lovely photographs could easily be a stone’s throw from where I live. I have seen early morning foxes – small and beautiful miracles. Your portrayal of the short days, changed light, and mornings that come too early is so familiar, yet new with your words. Perhaps like you, I cannot bear to get up when there’s a “5 something” on my clock. Happy Solstice.

    Like

  19. Beautiful Andrea. I wish we could have had snow, but we did have lost of lovely frost before it got milder again. I’ve missed your posts, thank you so much for staying with me at the Summerhouse during this rather bleak blogging year (for me). Happy Christmas to you my friend, see you in 2018 🙂 xxx

    Like

  20. Hmm … I wrote a comment, and I bet I hit return – or nothing – instead of “Post comment”! In any event, thank you for this lovely post – the light frosting of snow always makes everything look just a little bit more wonderful. I love the image of what seems to be some formation of old, weathered wood or pilings. It’s all in waiting, indeed. Happy Solstice, Christmas, Everything!
    Jeanne

    Like

  21. I think your November was much colder than mine was, Andrea, not that I was out of doors much, being submerged in an intensive novel-write that month. I remember spending two mornings at the allotment, one in November and the other at the beginning of December. On both occasions it was so warm that I didn’t need to wear a coat. It’s amazing how much difference it can make, living just over three hundred miles south of you! It’s Boxing Day as I write this comment to your post, and a very squally, grey day, with the seagulls having created quite a rumpus around midday. Now it is pitch black outside, and all I can hear is the wind moaning in the trees. It makes the house seem very cosy in contrast. Wishing you a belated Merry Christmas 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that diversity we have on this small island Sarah! Yes, it does feel as though we had a properly wintry November – a little snow and plenty of frost – which we seem to have seen less of in recent years. But there has also been mildness too, with plants still lush and the mosses seem to have had a field day – Christmas was very mild but it’s turned icy now here, though our wind has died down. Hoping you enjoy the rest of the holidays Sarah 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Enjoy the descriptions of the weather from both your post, Andrea, and also Sarah Potter’s. Southern California has had fierce dry winds for several weeks on and off, resulting in devastating fires. It is the worst weather that we have, at least for me. My 91-year-old father-in-law and his caregiver had to evacuate for two nights as the fire came too close for comfort, though all was fine when they returned. I’m fascinated with the weather, no matter where!

    Like

  23. I’m long after the event having read this before and after your other posts… I savour them all, and love your pictures… I treasure your evocation of winter.. the atmosphere of winter, and autumn too, ravish my heart… there is so much mystery and such subtle messages to be heard and felt… loved your Christmas post…
    As a frequently homesick Englishwoman, – homesick for the countryside and its beauty, and a way of life long gone, I treasure your writing … it brings back the magic and the mystery I always sensed as a young woman, and now miss… thank you, Andrea, and I look forward to your New Year Posts … best wishes, Valerie

    Like

  24. I am late to this but oh so grateful to have read it on a dreary January day. Your words are beautiful as ever, and you capture the wonder of winter – that much-derided season – and the appeal of the dark days, so well. Happy dreaming and thank you 😊

    Like

  25. A beautiful December post, Andrea. I find it hard to connect with the peace of winter before all the holidays are over, including New Year’s. No snow here yet, and the daffodils are up a good 5 inches now.

    Like

I love comments, please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.