Tonight’s quietness has been punctuated by the steady beat of raindrops on my balcony here in Holyrood. I wonder why I find this sound such a comfort – and am reminded that raindrops are among the constants in our lives. And so, in the course of an evening, I have returned to similar experiences from childhood right up to the present day. Each has something in common: the warmth and calm of being sheltered, indoors, at home, lulled towards peace by some of the gentler sounds of nature – which present peace makes me all the more mindful of Lori in Florida and all who are dealing with the aftermath of a fiercer expression of nature’s power. Hugs, Lori.
Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Winter is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximising scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.
From Wintering: the power of rest and retreat in difficult times
I’ve been harvesting and washing the last of a large crop of tasty eating apples. Conversations over the garden gate have been turning towards wintering – the cost of fuel, ‘bring a good warm coat,’ shorter days, longer nights and a desire to avoid ‘The News’ at all costs. There’s a certain melancholy that comes with the changing of seasons, long felt, and the reason for the various midwinter celebrations we participate in. So I’ve been glad to revisit Katherine May’s ‘Wintering’ – for there’s something about a crucible that is at once both painful and hopeful. We’re quietly moving in the direction of metamorphosis.
Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Heavy rain and wind in the UK seem relatively mild as I think of the ferocious hurricane over Florida, and of the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, of the continuing tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, and of loss of lives and livelihoods brought about by crises all over the world – both natural and political. There are times when we find ourselves lost for words. Times when the best we can do is hope for ‘a new day.’ Connecting with each other as best we can remains important – even when that connection involves admitting that we really don’t know what to do or say. Sometimes the connection is made by way of stillness and silence, at others by way of ‘small things’ and acts of kindness, come what may …
Deep blue sky, dew on the lawn, green, red, orange and gold in the trees, a warmer coat, perhaps a scarf, enjoying breakfast baked apples hot because there’s a slight nip in the air … beauty in autumn everywhere.
Fire is a good companion for the mind; Here in this room, mellowed by sunlight, kind After yesterday’s thrall of rain and dark, I watch the fire and feel some warm thoughts spark …
May Sarton Collected Poems
A good walk on a cool grey afternoon, coupled with thoughts of some more baked apples for supper, have resulted in the lighting of my wood stove and plans for that most lovely of autumnal occupations: hot coffee, buttered scones and books beside the fire. Sometime yesterday I was speaking with a friend about the power of evocation. Oh so very much is evoked and re-membered by a warm ash-burning hearth of red and gold. And ‘warm thoughts spark …’
I remembered the joy of baked apples tonight and I’m so glad I did – they’re wonderfully easy. Wash, remove core (my apple core remover is a favourite kitchen tool), replace said core with sultanas, currants or honey and pop in the oven for twenty-five minutes. With or without custard or other sauce, fluffy baked apples are warming and delicious – and somehow all the more so if they’re from one’s own garden.
I’m told that our human eyes see ‘only’ a limited spectrum of colour. I can’t count the ever-changing colours and shades present to me in one small rural garden though.
I sometimes think I’ll spend the rest of my days pondering the miracle of what it is to be a human person, to be sentient. So many extraordinary ‘happenings’ need to take place within the confines of my brain to bring about every experience I have.
So, too, for the golden labrador next door. What moves her to bark? And how does an apple tree know how to consistently make apples every year? Or Michaelmas daisies know it’s Michaelmas?
Ah, colours. And questions. My Spanish teacher asks, ‘¿tú tienes preguntas?’
‘Sí, yo tengo muchas preguntas,’ I reply, ‘siempre preguntas!’
Here’s a question for a bathroom mirror or the door of a kitchen cupboard. Along with a great deal more of Brianna Wiest’s writing, this stops me in my tracks. On so many occasions recently I’ve come back to the thought that everything we encounter is governed by our perspective – always deeply affected by our default mechanisms – at the time. What other options exist? On anything I can call to mind there are always other options, other perspectives. I’m reminded to slow down a little – to hold space to contemplate a host of possibilities, in and for everything, everywhere.