Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Ramble - Standing on the Edge

A strange, liminal time of the year is this, for the old Celtic year has passed away, and we stand on the forward edge of a brand new year, in the north a chilling contraption of fallen leaves and frozen earth, short days, darkness, frost and and wind.

The word edge has been around forever, dating at the very latest from the tenth century. We have it through the Middle English egge, the Old English ecg and the Old Germanic ecke, all meaning "corner". It is kin to the Latin acer meaning "sharp", and the Greek akmē meaning "point", and at the root of all these forms is the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) ak- meaning "sharp".

The storm tossed highlands seem empty in November. Migratory birds have (for the most part) departed for warmer climes. Most of our wild and furry "year round" residents are in deep hibernation now; the fertile earth and her life giving waters are freezing up, even as we watch with our collars turned up.

On trips into the woods, long shadows fall across our trail, and their edges are as sharp as the finest craftings of the blade smith's art. For all the early winter emptiness, frost and morning sunlight change the Two Hundred Acre Wood into something rich and elegant and inviting: glittering fronds artfully curved and waving in the fields, milkweed sculpted into pleasing shapes, bare trees twinkling like stars, the edges of blackberry leaves rosy and sparkling with frost crystals.

November always seems chthonic to me. That engaging word with its bewildering arrangement of vowels and consonants springs from the Greek khthonios, meaning "of the earth", and it's usually employed in describing subterranean matters and deities of the underworld.  When we use chthonic to describe something, we are focusing on what is deeper or within, rather than that which is apparent at first glance or resting on the surface. Implicit in the adjective are notions of rest, sleep, fertility and rebirth - mortality and abundance coexisting and enfolding each other in a deep embrace.

A dearly loved friend passed beyond the fields we know a few days ago, and thoughts of mortality and abundance have been much with me this week.  Christel was my adopted big sister, and she was one of the wisest and strongest women I have ever known.  Hers was an open heart - she walked through this world loving it fiercely, appreciating its grandeur, grace and reciprocity, cherishing its innate abundance and wildness. Lit from within, she fairly blazed with life and passion, and she lighted up every room she entered. Somewhere beyond the here and the now, she is still alight, and I have to remember that.

Grieving, I find myself restless and unable to settle anywhere for long, rising before dawn and going outside to watch the early stars, piling up books on the old oak library table and then forgetting about them, brewing endless pots of tea and letting them go cold, staring out the window for hours at a time or standing silently at the
edge of the woods.  I am grateful for having known and loved and walked through this world with my big sister, but there's a hole in my heart and the wind is blowing through it.


christinalfrutiger said...

I am so sorry. I hope that your beloved natural world that you visit daily can help heal your broken heart.
Stand at the edge of that beautiful forest and breath deeply that cold, earthly scent. And let the forest see your tears and hear your cries. She will help you!

Nan said...

I am so very sorry.

Mystic Meandering said...

What a loving tribute to your sister. And the photo is so symbolic of the "passing"/"passage" of death into the beyond...

May you be comforted knowing that there are many out here in blogland that care about you and hold you in spirit as you also pass through this time of grieving, and remembering...

There is a poem by Rabindranath Tagore that seems suitable here:

"Death is not extinguishing the light, it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come..."

My Heart goes out to you, my friend ~ ~ ~ ~

Chris said...

Exquisitely related. Thank you for your fine words and the huge worlds they open as we share your grief and its oddly concomitant JOY.

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Cate, the image is beautiful.
Your words so deep and meaningful.
A gift that the two of you knew each other.
I related so the the last paragraph.
The days are short, nights long,
cold and misty rain today.
I go outside and very soon chilled to the bone.
Take care dear online friend...

the wild magnolia said...

So very sad for your loss, a sister, memories of her will now begin to fill the empty hole in your heart. I feel this very strongly. Love goes on and on, and for that, I am thankful.

The photo is exquisite. I love it to the fullest.

Shell said...

I feel your pain, Cate. When I lost one of my best friends almost three years ago from an unexpected drug overdose. It was a terrible blow to me and changed my life. I felt that same cold wind you describe in my heart, as well.
I hope as the days and months go, that the memories of Christel will help heal your heart.