I awaken before sunrise and make coffee, then wait for the first beam of sunlight to make its way through the south facing kitchen window. Sometimes there is sunlight, but mostly there is not. Northern days begin to stretch out languorously at the beginning of a new year, but we are in February's middling pages before a great difference can be felt in morning's velvet touch through the panes of our longing.
In January, I find myself longing for light and chasing it wherever I glimpse it for even a moment: village streets at sunrise, my sleeping garden, dusting the branches of trees in the Lanark woods or glistening like sequins in the snow when the clouds roll back for a while. Like Midas Crook in Ali Shaw's lovely mythic The Girl With Glass Feet, I pursue the light through my frozen highland landscape with notebook and lens, falling into crevices now and again, blundering into trees and old stones, occasionally getting stuck in a drift somewhere on snowshoes and flailing my way free.
There is a fine elusive old truth resting out there somewhere in the intangible interstices between earth and sky, light and shadow, and I should be honest here - that truth continues to evade me for the most part. On my woodland rambles, I trace long blue lines of shadow in the snow with my fingers and measure the difference in their slant from day to day. The sparkling shapes whisper that springtime is already on its way, but this morning they are also saying that it is going to be a while. A fine blue sky beckons through the windows, and it shades gloriously to pink and gold near the horizon, but we have a long long way to go before springtime. I shall hunt dancing motes of light in the woodland and within myself, and I shall remember that deep within their dreaming roots, all trees hold the light.