The older I get, the more aware I become of the passage of time, and how odd it is to slap an arbitrary measure on it. Months, weeks, seasons, years… none of it really means much to the natural world. Instead, perhaps it is time we looked more at each new event in nature being a small season of its own. Instead of winter, we have the season of sleeping, where the leaves finish falling and everything seems still. Three deep breaths over the Solstice, and things begin to stir again. Now, a bare three weeks after Yule, there are new seasons appearing. Here we have the season of hazel gold and ivy berry – small, tangible signs that things are still moving, and when the sun shines through the new hazel catkins, the first potent sign of spring can be seen. The ivy in the hedgerows is covered in clusters of dark, dull black berries, startling against the morning frost. In the verges, the first snowdrops are beginning to sneak through, though they are far from flowering just yet, and deer and hares can be seen running across the fields as the sun and shade slide slowly across them. Mist hangs like trolls breath over the hills and valleys. Later on there will be the season of cherry blossom, the first cowslips, crocuses, each small season passing to the next as energy and life ebbs and flows slowly back up towards the skies.
As a child, each season seemed like an eternity, giving way reluctantly to the next, with winter seeming the longest season of all. These days, in my mid thirties, I am learning to slow down again, to really look at the land around me and note the constant small clues to the passing of time. I feel the energy deep in my gut, slowly moving downwards over the winter and making me slow and quiet and introspective, even depressed at times, then, even this early in the new year, I feel it slowly working its way back upwards again, not quite level with the land yet, but still giving off promises of the year to come. And I think that is a grand way to live.
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, looming 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.