In the iron grip of another winter, we sometimes go into hibernation mode like bears, become insular, freeze up, close down and turn inward, away from the bitter season of long nights and the cold reality outside the windows.
We lock doors, pull draperies shut and crank up the heating apparatus, light a fire and huddle around the hearth, muttering about the state of the larder and our stash of firewood. We wait for days to lengthen again and the light to return. We do our best to tune out the presence of a season we look forward to for its crystalline beauty, but would prefer to be without once it arrives. It was ever thus.
There are things we do not remember in winter, and things we fail to understand. We forget the cold clear water flowing effortlessly along under all the ice and snow. We forget that fallen leaves trapped within the ice and snow were once green and living things, and that they will provide compost or nourishment for trees and leaves still to come. We focus grimly on moving snow out of our way, and we fail to understand that snow itself is an integral part of our path, that next year's leaves, flowers and fruit are sleeping snugly somewhere underneath it all.
Sometimes, a simple wild and organic truth comes flooding back into one's senses like the north wind or a fast running river, and even the slumbering trees seem to echo that truth as one looks up at their perfect snowy arches against the sky. There is so much to see that my eyes and lens are not sure where to go and what to focus on: Sky, sunlight, clouds, shadows, branches, roof, icicles???
However one feels about the long white season, to be here and truly present in winter is something special. This is the Old Wild Mother's creation, an interval of fruitful darkness in which new life, new ideas and new paths are conceived. Now and again, I pause in my travels (and neverending shoveling) to remember the Spring already on its way and the new life sleeping somewhere down under my winter boots, but most of the time, I forget. Whether the forgetfulness is something to do with my age, my tendency to get all wrapped up in the colors and shapes I am seeing, or just part of an elemental human condition, I haven't figured out.