It may seem odd to be writing about abundance in the depths of winter, but here we are at the end of January, and that is just what I am doing.
This week's word appeared in the 1400s, coming to us through Middle English and Old French, thence from the Latin abundāns, all meaning "full or overflowing". There are lovely synonyms for the noun: affluence, bounty, fortune, plenty, plethora, profusion, prosperity, riches, wealth. As adjectives, Roget offers us the aforementioned "full and overflowing", as well as lavish, ample, plentiful, copious, exuberant, rich, teeming, profuse, bountiful and liberal.
We use abundance (or abundant) to describe circumstances of fullness, ripeness and plenty, most often in late summer and early autumn as we weed and reap and gather in, turn the earth for next year's sowing, harvest the bounty of the season for consumption when the snow flies.
Winter's eye is as passionate as summer's, but it views the world with a different camera, taking in bare branches against the clouds, light falling across old rail fences, deep blue shadows across the snow, dead leaves dancing in the wind, the thousand and one worlds resting easy within glossy icicles down by the creek - on sunny days, they are filled with blue sky and possibility. Bales of hay left in winter fields are cloaked in snow and they are eloquent reminders. Each and every one cries out for attention, for patient eyes and a recording lens, for recognition and a slender scrip of words.
The long white season is about harvest and abundance too, but the gathering is inward, the abundance quieter and dappled with questions. Around this time of the year, I always seem to find myself questioning the shape of my journeying - a slow progress across the highlands with camera and notebook in hand, the sheaves of images captured or described and carefully archived, even the eyes with which this old hen is seeing the world.
As always, I need to remember that questions are a part of the journey, and that they are a kind of harvesting too. There is not the slightest chance that I will ever capture even a scrap of the snowy wonder and grandeur around me, and these days on the earth are numbered, but in the warm darkness of my questions and my uncertainty, I gather everything in and rejoice.