Wounded

This is the way it will be now: walking in the darkness before dawn.  The world rain-washed, figures no more than shadows.  This is the way it will be: darkness falling before I leave work, walking home in the dark.  Summer officially ended with the winding back of the clock and that extra hour gave darkness a space to seep in.

Three times recently I have woken from an unsettling dream and into a panic attack.  The darkness has seemed too thick, too close.  The dawn has seemed much too far away.  I have had to get up and turn on every light, go out into the yard to breathe in thinner air.  I have had to open my curtains wide so the glow of the streetlamp settles me back to sleep.

I have always appreciated the power of the dark and the things that are revealed there.  Darkness is fertile ground, a place for dreaming.  But this season I have dreaded it.  I have dreaded that long spread of days when the only daylight is diffused through my office window.  And yet in dreading it, I have embraced it.  At the year’s turn, I stood in darkness and welcomed it and it hasn’t been something to fear after all.

There is loss in the darkness.  Something wrong in the park in the gloom of early November.  A disjointedness.  A commotion of songbirds fluttering aimlessly.  On the edge of the park where we walk every day there is a bungalow.  It is surrounded by a long privet hedge, at least fifteen years old, maybe a metre deep and taller than I am.  You can see it in the photo above, a backdrop to the cherry tree.  It is thronged by birds all year round and buzzing with insects in summer.  And it is gone.  Chopped down and ripped out.  Over the coming days the garden is paved over and a wooden fence erected where the privet once lived.

The privet belonged to the owners of the bungalow, and yet it didn’t.  It became part of the park and belonged to all the creatures that used it for food and shelter.  I’m finding it hard to get over its loss.  Without it, the landscape is wrong.  The whitebeam sapling that was planted in the spring and has lasted all through the summer has also been lost in the last few weeks  – broken off at the trunk.  The whitebeam was an infant compared to the privet, but I still feel its ending.  I wonder if the landscape feels these wounds the way I do.  Does it recognise that some key part of itself is missing?  There is loss in the darkness.  Perhaps that is the price of the dreaming.

But there are gifts too.  Autumn has been kind to those organisms that live in the dark, waiting for their moment.  Fungi have revelled in the rain and released bloom after strange bloom.  I have revelled in hammering rain and bellowing wind.  The air births a rainbow against a glowering denim sky.  A skein of geese squawks overhead and a puppy pounces joyfully on a leaf.  The crow guardians in the park swoop a greeting as I arrive with a handful of peanuts.  These are the lights in the season’s darkness.   I breathe in as many as I can for the days when the darkness is too much.

And I have a talisman for the season.  Owls have been shadowing me since I came across an owlet in the forest in midsummer.  Now I have a little friend to take me into the darkness.  Frivolous, fun, but with eyes to drown in all the same.  She was blessed and charged at the year’s turn and now she will travel with me, helping me to remember the light in the year’s dark.


Blogger book of the month: William Holland – Shadows Kill

Bill Holland is passionate about life and passionate about writing.  He shares observations and questions about both on his blog Artistry with Words.  Bill is also a prolific writer.  Shadows Kill is the first in a series of (so far) four unusual thrillers.  It is a gritty, intelligent and fast-paced book that will have you hooked until the final chapter. The author has a knack of making you care about the characters very quickly, which means that you’re both rooting for them to win through and fearful about what might befall them. The book starts from an unusual viewpoint, not that of a straightforwardly ‘good’ cop or investigator, but of a character who is a vigilante of sorts and therefore poses questions about morality. But despite this, I came to care for Eli very quickly and couldn’t wait to turn the page to find out how it ended. A well-written exciting read and a great introduction to a series.  You can buy Bill’s books on Amazon and you can find his blog here.

106 thoughts on “Wounded

  1. I love your talisman – a little owl seems the perfect companion for these darker days. I myself carry a horse chestnut this time of year, and each year in October I select a new one to pocket and heft. It’s silly, but it’s a comfort and reminds me of the blessings that come with this season in spite of the darkness.

    Wishing you well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your talisman is a cutie. Where did you find her? I hate to see trees destroyed, particularly if they are healthy. It was especially pain in San Diego, which does not have enough shade trees, to begin with. Palm trees may make for a lovely skyline but they provide precious little shade from the subtropical sun.
    I love the book review. Things can be revealed in the dark that are not apparent in the light of day–but this time of the year can be depressing. Another sensitive, well-written blog. Happy rest of November and December to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We seem to find talismans just when we need them. The pink contrasts nicely with the darkness. Dreams have been powerful lately. A lot is going on the the subconscious, the darkness. Beautiful reverie, as always, Andrea. I so enjoy walking along with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How would we see the light if there was no darkness? This post spoke to me in so many ways. Here where I live winter has come too early. I have not had enough time to enjoy the fall and here I am swaddled in layers of clothes, a hat, gloves and boots…’too soon’ is my cry. I do not like the dark so I seek the light and wonder of wonders it is always there, the other side of the dark.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Andrea!! Once again I’ve been away but so good to come back to one of your uplifting posts. I too suffer from anxiety and panic- sometimes paralyzing. Like you getting out into the cathedral of goddess seems to bring back the calming breath!! Yes, so many gifts. Now we gear up for Christmas and the winter solstice, lights and music. I so hope for snow! I know I’m perverse. I can’t remember who said you go to bed in one world and wake up in another. I’m all for that! My partner has not been well so I keep praying that next year will be better!!! In the meantime there are definitely joys interspersed with the great melancholy. I love your tree fungus and that owl is priceless.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The area I live in is called Te Popo – which I believe is NZ Maori for The Black Night – or something like that. I now know why: even on a moonlit night I have to feel the side of the house to know when the path turns the corner of the house. I’ve never “seen” such blackness. Your wonderful reflection brings home the fears and joys of seasons and nights and days.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This time of year isn’t easy, I miss the strength of a higher sun. As with all things, there are good days and not-so-good days. I am always astonished to see the light fading on another day that seems like it went too fast. I tell myself I can get through this time and the days will lengthen again. More walking mid-day, more yoga/meditation, and looking for the beauty in every thing.
    Love your little wise owl, Andrea, a good buddy to keep close by. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a “strange and mysterious” post to me, Andrea. We don’t have long dark and snowy winters here. During the winter the sun shines and it can be really hot. It gets dark earlier but there isn’t this feeling of being shrouded in darkness that you are describing here.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The owl is the best of talismans, able to see in the dark, able to hear, able to swoop and protect. And my-oh-my, hasn’t it become dark, sweeping in of a sudden, the lengthening nights made longer and darker by the persistent rain clouds. But today, at least in East Anglia, we’re promised clear skies. And freezing biting winds.
    Enjoyed your photos. And I agree of the sorrow of hedges ripped out.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Andrea, I always look forward to your posts and here I am again, in awe of your photography and thoughts and writing. So many emotions swirl through me. Humility. Genuine appreciation and respect. A deeper ache, lower than the stomach this time. But a heart that still hears hope. Thank you for sharing your beauty with the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hedges are precious. I share your sense of loss over yours. I planted a hawthorn hedge alongside our neighbour’s fence with wildlife in mind. It works well if kept pruned. Sleep is a precious gift too. A time for re-charging before starting again. My best inspiration seems to come first thing in the morning. Wishing you plenty of deeply peaceful sleep this winter.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I come to this site to experience and enjoy a master craftsman in her prime, but today I find a beautiful bonus and recognition.Thank you so much, Andrea, for the “shout out,” as we say in the States. That was very kind of you and I am touched that you thought of me.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ooh, sorry you’ve had nightmares. Have they gone away with your acceptance of the darkness? It’s strange for me, because I’m a night-person but have always been somewhat afraid of the dark. It feels claustrophobic to me, and I do suffer from claustrophobia.

    It’s funny you mention your talisman is an owl. My husband and I were walking the dog a few days back and noticed a giant owl looking down on us from someone’s roof antenna. I didn’t bring my good camera on the walk, so I tried getting a shot with my phone. I’ve never seen owls in the metropolitan area before. It was sort of freaky. I can’t imagine where it came from.

    Btw, I thought I’d mention this in case it helps, I have a sun lamp I use in the mornings. It’s meant to help with winter darkness blues, and I find that it really does work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So far they have thanks Lori. It’s a kind of claustrophobia that is my problem, it’s thinking that I won’t be able to see my way out of somewhere. I’ve only ever seen one owl in a populated area when I was very young – I’ve certainly never seen one around where I live.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I understand that claustrophobia thing. I feel the same in the darkness. It feels like walls are closing in, even though they aren’t, because I can’t see to be sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. It is amazing, isn’t it, how we just never get used to the encroachment of this season. And yet how many times have we lived through this season? It is incredible the human spirit’s ability to resist acclimatising. But I love your positives, especially the blooming fungi!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I understand the feelings of loss. This fall has been different. I, normally, love the fall – October is my favorite month, keeping me going through to Christmas. This year is not dread to me, but the first w/o my sister, third w/o Dad. Mom is having a rough time. We do fine together, but she is getting older and feels it. I am so excited about my spiritual changing and happy and exuberant, but there is a nagging. We will see.

    Like

  16. Well, Andrea, I totally empathize with those moments of panic – they are terrifying, indeed. I know you will get – if you haven’t already gotten – past them. And I know your deep love of nature, and your little owlet talisman, will guide you through. I, too, would be mourning the privet hedge and tree. I never understand how anyone sees such things as improvements.
    Take care.

    Like

  17. Beautifully written. Your words themselves are like sparks of light in the darkness. I hope they are as cathartic as they seem, and that your talisman does the trick.

    I love the winter of crisp frosty mornings, crystal clear light, hill snow and vivid sunsets and sunrises, but the sudden onset of darkness is disorientating and increasingly provokes an urge to hibernate. Like you so rightly say, though, it is a time to dream.

    Like

  18. What a beautiful observance of the onset of the darker months. Like many aspects of nature, it brings both good and bad at the same time. A lovely and engaging read.

    Like

  19. I hope your unsettling dreams and panic attacks fade away very soon, Andrea. Your little owl is so cute it must help bring you through this time of darkness and back out into the light. I love the dark most of the time but not when I am unwell; then I have to have a little light as a beacon to help me through the night. We have no street lamps here and it gets very dark, especially at the new moon.
    How sad that the privet hedge has been cut down; perhaps the owner found it too dark and oppressive or too difficult to maintain. I am pleased your neighbours have let their hedge grow and you are all (especially the sparrows!) reaping the benefits.

    Like

  20. Frivolous fun with your owlet sounds just what you need, Andrea! It is adorable! Nature grieves for the loss of part of itself and so do you. The darkness is all-consuming this year, I too feel but I haven’t as yet embraced it … not sure I will. Wishing you well and harmony this winter season.

    Like

  21. This time of year is a wonderfully inspiring time – although you have a knack of inspiring in all seasons – on the cusp of something that feels abyss-like a lot of the time. It’s a strange perception of the season.

    Like

  22. Beautiful writing, Andrea, as always! For some reason the darkness of the season feels a bit darker and closed in here, too, but it may be that the shadow of world events is having a hand in that feeling.

    Like

  23. I understand your sadness over the loss of landscape. We get used to these spaces, and then they change. Sometimes not for the better. I’m always shocked when trees, especially, are missing from where they belong. Or where I want them to stay, I guess. Rampant growth here is the cause for so many of our trees being felled. I grieve them.
    May your little owl be your light this winter. x

    Like

  24. Hello, Andrea. The Soggy Season is well and truly upon us. There’s plenty to blight our sight during the few hours of Daylight that we receive. Grey skies depress our days; life becomes a struggle for all, the simplest of gestures, those few peanuts, for example, are a God-send. Do you remember writing the phrase ‘The bookends of the day’? Thanks to those few words that you wrote, I see the blossom of Spring, the warmth of Summer, and the colours of Autumn as the Bookends of Winter; not only are they a warm golden memory of the past, but they are more importantly a bright light in the darkness ahead.
    Anyway, I hope I haven’t bored you to tears. Keep wrapped up and warm. Bye for now.

    Like

    • I always smile when I see a comment from you Mick 🙂 Yes, we do have dreary days ahead, but today among all the soggy leaves I’ve been enjoying golden leaves and bright berries, so we aren’t quite there yet… I’ll continue making friends with the crows by bribing them with peanuts – you started that when you suggested I try to make friends with a robin, but the crows are much easier to find on a daily basis and I do love them and their cleverness even if they can’t sing quite as well!

      Like

  25. Very beautiful descriptions, Andrea. I cannot think of a series of overcast days without recoiling, sun-lover that I am, and yet the scenes you highlight here sound intriguing and even inviting. We have moved about an hour east from where we were, and I am finding the sun to be exceptionally bright, and yet the area gets more varied weather being at a higher elevation, so some interesting colder weather has approached on several days. As someone sensitive to any micro-environment in which I find myself, I can’t yet tell if I am at odds with the weather here or welcoming it. Thanks for writing about it so beautifully, no matter what the emotions.

    Like

      • Andrea, last we actually had snow, which stayed on the ground for about an hour. Evidently, the snow was somewhat rare here, at least in that amount. Since we are situated in a pass between two large mountains, there is now a lovely view of the way they both look with a large amount of snow. I find that I cannot yet write about the area, as I have not internalized it yet. Interesting that a landscape, view, or region becomes such a part of us over time.

        Like

  26. Every season brings its own dusk and dawns. The climate change is absolutely necessary for keeping us afloat, otherwise the state of stagnancy will arrive sooner in our thoughts. Beautifully scripted article, coupled with heart touching sceneries.

    Like

  27. Loved all your insights into ‘darkness’ and the Autumn – especially the owl though as we have had them nesting in a nearby tree (in an owl box!) and they have been a constant source of delight – Blessings Lois

    Like

  28. The talisman is cute! And the book sounds good. Lovely, thoughtful writing, as usual over here, Andrea. I am particularly taken with you walking home in the dark because I know how that feels–that whole continuum of feelings it provokes. How far do you walk to work?

    Like

  29. As always your writing moves me…..Thank you for reminding me of the small but precious details of life. The hedge that belongs to so many creatures….I really love that, especially when we humans think we own our hedges:). I love your talisman….Happy holidays Janet X

    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 )

Connecting to %s

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