Winter’s Turning

The season turned some time ago,
slipping slowly since
into the hard cold grasp
of frost and ice,
now each morning
gilding the edges of the lawn’s
every blade with crystals
golden in the early sun.

Though the season turned some time ago,
only now does the
clinging cold clutch
at skin exposed however briefly
to the wind and marching vapour
rising from the fields
standing wet from recent soaking rain.

Since the season turned some time ago,
the days’ march onward
near the heart of Winter,
darkness’ descent dancing
from light into night swiftly
changing state as
Winter’s whimpers subtly alter to
melancholy whispers in the fading day.

The midseason approaches,
deepest velvet night
replaces shallow satin day,
but soon they swap their places
gradually longer days
for incrementally shorter nights,
as the wheel adjusts once more,
the pattern begins again,
the tottering and teetering
of light and dark
of day and night
of winter facing
the return of summer in its time.

For once more the seasons rocking
to their rhythms show
that to change and shift positions,
as does the sun hour by month
is the way of living, being, thriving
in Nature’s balanced grace.

Shortest day, I treasure you,
Longest might, I honour you.
Winter Solstice, I welcome you.

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Closed for the Night

Recently, I have been allowing myself to open up more to the world around me. To the dancing of the wind scattering the long strands of my hair into wondrous tangles. To the patter of the rain on my back as I work in the garden. To the summer sun, with whom I have an uneasy truce. To the mad chuttering of the squirrels, impatient calling of the magpies and the sweet songs of the small birds who visit our feeders. I am able to do this from the time I get up in until the sun goes down.

From sunset to sunrise, I find that I have close myself off and down again, to anything beyond the safe walls of my home. I sense quite acutely now the creatures of my immediate and farther landscape. But for now I will not allow myself to extend, because I daren’t engage with the countryside in my county. The Badger Cull has returned.

I simply cannot bear to hear the silent cries of the dying or feel the agony of the wounded. I learned this last year. I am not strong enough to endure this once more. At sunset, I offer ‘prayers’ to the gods and spirits of the land that the Badgers do not suffer when they are exterminated. It is, I admit, the request of one who knows better, because there will only be suffering. No only for the Badgers killed, but for the members of setts decimated in the nightly carnage.

In the morning, I wake to the beauty of the sunrise, the bird song, the view of my yew and apple trees, but I am still haunted by the knowing that so may of my Badger kin will never know the feeling of the wind over their backs, the rain on their noses or the sun warming the entrance to their sett. I pause and as I give thanks for another day, I whisper farewell to those who have died during the night in a misguided attempt to control a disease that has by now in the land itself. harder still is that we will never know how many healthy Badgers died, and died in vain.

 

Autumnal Equinox

I have been away from here most of the summer. I have been reorienting myself. I have been realigning my soul. I have been clearing the clutter of my mind.

Now, on the day of balance before the slow slide to Winter and its deep darkness, I feel more whole than I have for some time.

I set my alarm so I would be awake by 0630 and could watch the sun rise as I sat in bed. Quiet. Contemplating. Reflecting. I not only felt part of the sunrise as an observer, I was aware of participating in it at a profound level. I observed, but I was more than an observer.

At first the whole horizon was awash with soft light, diffuse, gentle. Slowly clouds came into view. Gray like smoke, wispy and fragile. The last light of the night braved the growing light. Refused to be extinguished. Resisted the light that would make it disappear for the length of the day.

The corvids flew from their roosts crawing and scrawking across the sky. A wood pigeon flew, rising and falling in flight like a winged tide moving closer to me. Another called in the distance.

With the clock ticked towards 0700, the traffic on the road below my window increased. The commute began. People in metal boxes with wheels hurled themselves east and west. They did not notice the sky or the growing light of the day’s sun’s return. Now the smokey clouds turned to fire as the angle of the light changed. More clouds in streaks gathered to witness the moment with me. Incrementally, the previously diffuse light on the horizon shrank.

The light consolidated. Brighter and brighter the place where the sun would appear revealed itself.

I sat transfixed before the open window. The cool morning air filled my lungs.

The last few moment seemed to drag out like hours. Then, then from behind an oak tree the great light blazed. A fixed point of intense energy compacted from where before there had been only energy so thinly drawn that it could not possibly have come from our nearest star. Gossamer light transformed to pure energy, fierce and no longer friendly. From light like that of a gentle shower to light like what comes from the mouth of a water canon. Light easy on the eye to that which blinds.

The field of Maize Maidens directly across the road did not dance for this sunrise. They stood still. Reverent in anticipation.

Going down to the kitchen to feed the cats I was treated to the second sunrise over the field. The light glancing off the tops of the Maidens’ headdresses. A different kind of light again. At a different angle energy scattered as it spread over the field.

During all this I kept pondering who was doing the moving, for the first time aware of the spinning of the earth in space. Aware that though I was sitting on my bed I was moving, whirling on this rocky world swathed in cloud and wrapped in oceans. It was a profoundly humbling moment. I sat there aware of everything around me. Aware of my smallness in the vastness, not only of space, but in relation to the earth as well. Infinitesimally small, but member of a species which in aggregate has caused so much damage to each other and the planet we call home.

Joy. Exhilaration. Grief. Gratitude. Regret. Anger. Wonder. Hope. Love.

Each emotion in turn as a thread and woven together in a Celtic knot of awareness in the centre of my being. Simultaneous. Discrete. At once, as one.

The day of balance has called me back to my truest self. To why I am here. To what I have to do. To my call and my purpose. No excuses. No equivocation. Only being and doing. Wholeness for me being oneness with creation. Insights. Words. Images. Not mine to hold. Mine to share. The spiral of time on which I ride through life has come back to this place again of decision and dedication. Being and becoming one now. Merged. Healed enough to begin. Again. For the first time.

The day of balance. Autumn. Harvest. Reaping. Ingathering. Tipping towards winter. The darkness without which there can be no creation, no birth.

May the blessings of the Equinox be yours this day.

Winter Arrived

Rain falls.
Mist rises.
Clouds glower.
Sun hides.

Winter.

The outside world contracts.
The inside world expands.
Darkness overtakes daylight.
Morning shortens.
Evening disappears.

There is day.
There is night.
Dawn shrinks.
Dusk vanishes.

Only two times now:
shortened day,
lengthened night.

Winter arrived
damp and dank,
cloud shrouded,
sun starved.

When the golden warmth
appears
suddenly,
an unexpected afternoon
of sunshine
fleeting glorious heartening,
before clouds once more overtake,
dropping temperature,
stealing our illusioned sky
turning vibrant blue to dull gray,
a new pattern
autumn well and truly gone,
replaced subsumed forgotten.

Horizontal rain
wind borne
lashes whips rages
reality tipped sideways longwise
playing with our minds
toying with our souls
dampening our spirits . . .
unless until
acceptance.

Welcome the time of retreat
when dark and chill
replace light and warmth,
preparation for regeneration;
face discomfort
to shatter complacency,
accept lessons
in softer seasons ignored,
embrace the work of winter,
learn not to fear darkness
but to cherish light.

Winter the harsh season.
Winter the winnowing season.
Winter when then and yet
hide forcing the now
into shard-sharp relief
focusing what is most important
no frills no embellishment no decorations
can hide us from ourselves.

Allow the trees’ austere forms
to show what we avoid —
that we too stand naked
before the cold truths unavoidable
we are vulnerable
we are fragile
we are capable of hope.