I lurch awake before sunrise and make coffee, then wait for early sunlight to make its way through the south facing kitchen window. Sometimes there is sunlight these mornings, but mostly there is not. Northern days begin to stretch out languorously at the beginning of a new year, but we are into February's middling pages before change can be seen and felt in morning's velvet touch through the frosted panes of our longing.
In January, I find myself longing for light and chasing it whenever I I glimpse it for even a moment: village streets at sunrise, my sleeping garden, sunlight and sparkles dusting trees in the Lanark woods or glistening like sequins in the snow when the clouds roll back. Like Midas Crook in Ali Shaw's novel, The Girl With Glass Feet, I pursue the light through my frozen highland landscape with notebook and lens, falling into crevices now and again, blundering into trees and old stones, occasionally getting stuck in a snowdrift on my snowshoes and flailing (or thrashing) my way free.
There is a fine elusive old truth resting out there in the intangible interstices between earth and sky, light and shadow. On woodland rambles, I trace long blue lines of shadow in the snow with my fingers and measure the difference in their slant from day to day. The shapes whisper that springtime is already on its way, but this morning they are also saying that it is going to be a while.
This morning, there is blue sky beyond my windows, and it shades gloriously to pink and gold and purple near the horizon, but the weather is very cold here (-28 C.), and we have a long long way to go before springtime puts in an appearance. Until it does turn up, I shall look for dancing motes of light in the woodland and within myself, and I shall remember that deep within their dreaming roots, all trees hold the light.