This week's word hails from the Middle English word comforten, meaning to make strong, and that word comes in turn from the Old French verb conforter, also meaning to strengthen. Both forms have their origins in a Latin compound consisting of com (a prefix conveying intensity or degree) and fortis meaning strong. To comfort is to soothe, relieve or bring peace, and the noun form describes a feeling of well-being and contentment. A comforter is someone who conveys ease, although the word is used mostly now to describe a quilted bed cover - they're grand things to have on one's bed on cold winter nights.
Notions of comfort have at their core the idea of being uplifted and strengthened, and the strength is not brawn or brute force, but vitality, courage and fortitude. One of the synonyms for strength in my thesaurus (one so far unplumbed here) is the word connection. In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Estes wrote, "We are strong when we stand with another soul. When we stand with one another, we cannot be broken." Hold that thought close....
Comforts past can be revisited anywhere and any time in their radiant stillness: bowls of cafe-au-lait enjoyed in a favorite local coffee shop, the village on late autumn mornings with villagers and trees appearing out of the mist as if by magic and disappearing again, a fire made with papery birch logs in the fireplace downstairs, the first snowfall of the season, the sonatinas of Scarlatti, my favorite earthenware teapot puffing clouds of chai scented steam into the early morning air. Then, there are rambles in Lanark with Himself and Spencer. There's a reed fringed swath of shoreline on Dalhousie Lake where we watch migrating geese every year, and a special place on the edge of Highway 511 near Hopetown. From it, one looks out across miles of rolling pine-clad ridges, and just being there expresses the Great Mystery in ways I can't begin to describe here.
One takes her comfort where she finds it. In October, days are short and dark, but now and then individual hours sparkle, and sometimes they sing like birds.