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 the native landscape.
January is the coldest month here in the north, a time of snow and penetrating icy cold. It's always tempting to remain indoors and just curl up by the fire with mugs of tea and books, but we three need to be out in the Lanark woods - snowy rambles there nourish and sustain us, and so we take them even on the coldest days in winter. I carry a walking stick for treacherous areas on the trail, the usual camera and photography peripherals, a pair of binoculars, a notebook and pen, a thermos of tea and Spencer's biscuits. It's a fair bit of weight to carry along with seed for the birds and apples for the deer, but that is all right. We muddle through somehow.
"Crunch, crunch, crunch" went our boots a few days ago as we made our way along the trail to the bird feeders. It was surely our imagination this early in the year, but the snow seemed brighter than it was a few days ago. During the few precious moments when there was sunlight, trees and slopes and 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 the glittering contents spilled out at our feet.
There was subtle flickering movement in woodland hollows, the shadows seeming to waver and flow like quicksilver when the wind moved through the trees. In the gloom, shapes seemed less attenuated, deeper and more intense, more blue. Here and there, a sprig of frozen green poked out of the snow, 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, just breathing, 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 wonder, being able to stand here and take this amazing world in, that is an amazing gift.