Winter is here

I write on borrowed time, perfect time, while the baby sleeps her one mega-nap of the day. A wintry somnolence has come over her and all of us, and while she hibernates I write, and I wonder … what goes on in the mind, in the belly of the almost-sleeping bear? And in my daughter?

Winter is here, if not by calendar then by reckoning of air temperature and night sky. Winter is here, judging by that sudden insatiable hunger I recognize from other years’ changing of the season. Winter is here, says that hunger, which craves pasta, roots and soups, and the last of the greens, and is done with berries and zucchinis for a while.

I walked my daughter to sleep in the woods this morning, her little body wrapped and puffed in head-to-toe pink but for the hat and mittens she kept shedding. Our park’s mighty oaks and tulip trees are bare of leaves but brimming with life—bluejays and squirrels fattening up as we all tend to do come early December.

It is refreshing to heed this call, this urge to prepare and indulge, to let a body do what the world—the actual biosphere—wants her to do.

Winter is here, and what will I (we) do with all this clarity? This mystery? This softening and enhancing of sound, shortening and intensifying of light, crispness of air and heaviness of clear night sky?

I cannot remember ever looking forward to winter so much as this year, this moment. I have rarely owned skis, snowshoes, snowboard, skates … I still need to find winter boots. But this year there is something in all that cold mystery that I intend to hear, explore and use.

Something in me is thawing, has turned, and I long to nurture this change. I am understanding new and old things about my home, beginning to embrace small crystals of appreciation for this unique geology, ecology and community.

Winter is here, and I want to let my thoughts hibernate, inculcate, integrate, even as I hike this bag of bones (along with her spritely elf companion) into the elements as often and intently as possible. I long for the spices and soups, root mashes, toddies, holidays and spiritual remembrances of the season; the poetry of tracks in the snow; the gift of long nights for reading, writing, pondering, interlocuting, and sky-watching in the best quarter of the year.

I pray you will feel it too, and use it: the wild mystery of winter.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,

anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

-Elizabeth Alexander, from “Praise Song for the Day”


2 thoughts on “Winter is here

  1. Lovely words, Hilary. You bring the season home to my soul. Thank you.
    And happy December! Soon our shortest day will have passed and we’ll be moving slowly, inexorably to longer days.


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