Here we are at the first Friday Ramble of the year. The Winter Solstice came and went, and light is slowly returning to the world. Days are already growing longer, but the effects of December's turning are felt in their own good time, and it will be a while before we sense real change in the length of our days and notice a difference in our native landscape.
January is the coldest month here in the north, a time of deep snow and penetrating icy cold. It's tempting to remain indoors and just curl up by the fire with tea and books, but we need long woodland rambles in Lanark - snowy ambles nourish and sustain us, and we are still taking them, even on the coldest days in winter. This year, I carry a cane as well as the usual camera and photography peripherals, a notebook and pen, a thermos of tea and Spencer's biscuits, but that is all right. I will muddle through somehow.
"Crunch, crunch, crunch" went the snowshoes this week as we made our way through the woods. It is surely our imagination this early in the year, but snow seemed brighter and more brilliant this week than on our potterings just a few days ago. During the few precious moments when there was sunlight, the fields glittered from here to there, and we felt as rich as old Croesus - as if every jeweler's vault on the planet had been looted and its glittering contents spilled out at our feet.
Even the shadows in the countryside seem to be changing, and there was a subtle shifting in the shady hollows, movement typical of the season and very welcome to already winter weary wanderers. Shadows were less attenuated, and at same time, they seemed deeper, more intense, more blue. Here and there, a sprig of flash frozen green poked out of the azure snows, and the color was a hopeful thing, one that not even the biting north wind could carry away in its gelid paws.
Resolutions this year??? There are no resolutions scrawled on paper or etched in stone, only the same old work in progress - trying to be fully present and paying attention, cultivating an intimate connection with my native woods and fields, getting out of my own way and letting the camera see what it will see, continuing to breathe, in and out, in and out. In the words of Surya Das, "There's nothing to do but remain in the view".
My days of climbing rocks and then jumping or sliding off (and occasionally getting to the bottom the hard way) may be over for now, but staying passionate and engaged, being right where I am and part of this, being able to stand here and take this amazing world in, that is such a amazing gift.