A strange, liminal time of the year is this, for the old Celtic year is passing away, and we stand on the forward edge of a brand new year, in the north a chilling contraption of fallen leaves and frozen earth, short days, darkness, frost and and wind.
The word edge has been around for centuries, dating at the very latest from the tenth century. We have it through the Middle English egge, the Old English ecg and the Old Germanic ecke meaning "corner". It is kin to the Latin acer meaning "sharp", and the Greek akmē meaning "point". At the root of all these edgy word forms is the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) ak meaning "sharp".
My storm tossed highlands seem empty in late October and early November. Migratory birds have (for the most part) departed for warmer climes. Most of our wild and furry "year round" residents are settling into deep hibernation. The good dark earth and her life giving waters are freezing up and falling asleep, even as we watch with our collars turned up against the wind.
On trips into the woods, long shadows fall across our trail, and their edges are as sharp as the finest craftings of the blade smith's art. For all the emptiness, frost and morning sunlight change the Two Hundred Acre Wood into something rich and elegant and inviting: glittering fronds artfully curved and waving in the fields, milkweed sculpted into pleasing shapes, bare trees twinkling like stars, the edges of blackberry leaves rosy and sparkling with frost crystals.
This time of the year always seems chthonic to me. That engaging word with its bewildering arrangement of vowels and consonants springs from the Greek khthonios, meaning "of the earth" and is usually employed in describing subterranean matters and deities of the underworld. When using chthonic to describe something, we are focusing on what is deeper or within, rather than that which is apparent at first glance or resting on the surface. Implicit in the adjective are notions of rest, sleep, fertility and rebirth - mortality and abundance coexisting and enfolding each other in a deep embrace. It's a good word for the here and now.
It is about a year since a much loved friend passed beyond the fields we know, and thoughts of both mortality and abundance are in the air as I write this. My friend was one of the wisest and strongest women I have ever known. Hers was an open heart - she walked through this world loving it fiercely, appreciating its grandeur, grace and reciprocity, cherishing its innate abundance and wildness. Lit from within, she fairly blazed with life and passion, and she lighted up every room she ever entered. Somewhere beyond the here and now, Christel is still alight, and I am trying to remember that as I mark the first anniversary of her passing.
October 26, 2012
resting easy in friday rambles