I’ve never really understood why so many people dislike winter so much. I know some suffer from the lack of sunlight and develop SAD (seasonal affective disorder), which is reason enough to dread the coming of shorter days and colder temperatures. There are few things as exhausting as dragging yourself out of a black pit of despair, as I know from experience. Personally, I love winter, more and more as I get a little older. Winter provides peace and quiet for me, a time to rest and recover my energy after a summer spent dashing from here to there and back again. Well – after the inevitable christmas markets, anyway… but the less said about those the better! There is a rawness, an openness about winter that appeals to me. The sun has a different hue to it. The wind has teeth and knife blades in so that the shortest walk results in rosy cheeks. We have had no snow here in the UK so far, which is a big contrast to last year, when we had already received several inches of snow by early December, although ironically enough the bulk of it had melted by Christmas itself. We had a Yuletide party in the garden, with a bonfire and cups of hot mulled cider. This year I plan to bake sun cookies and have a big fire and plenty of good, hot, home cooked food. Yuletide is a wonderful event in the year to me – the solstice, the time when the day is shortest and the night longest, but after this day, things will gradually begin to lengthen out again, then day recovering anew and beginning the slow ascent towards spring.
Winter can be a great time to dig out books and spend plenty of time sprawled in front of the fire with a hot drink and several herb books, as it is generally too cold and frozen to be out grubbing for herbs, though this year we have had a few bits of chickweed growing here recently – more about this in a later blog. I love how the landscape opens up during the winter, and find that it can provide an excellent opportunity to rediscover the land all over again, locating all the little nooks and crannies that hide some really gorgeous plants and groves in the warmer months.
The next blog post will be about the Holly tree, and will almost certainly involve a few festive Yuletide recipes that I’ll have been experimenting with! Promise! And now – continuing my earlier determination to be a little bit brave, here is one of my more recent poems inspired by the season.
I Become Winter
Blood jewels bare bones of trees,
The children of the Wood garbed and gilded in kingly fashion,
As the summer lord lays down his burden, weary,
and is given to the earth once more.
The wild father watches from the hedgerows,
inscrutable, smoke bearded, wild and ancient,
all knowing, all seeing,
Odin in his robes of holly and oak,
Thought and Memory on his shoulders,
Ravens of wisdom, harsh as the season, heralding
the lord of the winter winds as they cut
knife like across the lands, the lowering sun
almost as sharp. My shadow
marches beside me, large across the sere fields,
leaving no footstep, unlike I,
who trudge, tramping through mud,
remembering autumn’s warmth, misty mornings.
Yet snow is on the horizon, the wild lord
pacing in its wake, singing the world to sleep again.
Inhale, and I become winter, my breath the wind,
my hair the night sky with stars,
soul as silent as the grave, and just as peaceful.