I am at peace. There is something right with the world tonight. Nothing magical happened today that would allow me to figure out any of my current dilemmas, so why should I feel this way? Go figure. Or maybe, just go with it and let it be….
Maybe it’s the snow. The snow that was nothing when I got up in the morning, but literally decided to DUMP in the hour between when I come in from taking the dogs out to the time I’m back downstairs, showered, dressed, ready to grab my cup of joe and go. In that hour my car and the roads were coated with a wet, sticky, sleety kind of snow that gums up your windshield wipers and makes driving nasty, even with four wheel drive. I was late to work, never a good thing, and so was late coming home.
To a driveway that was royally plugged; my daughter’s little car was stuck; she hadn’t been able to make it up the slight incline. The plow guy hadn’t come yet; my husband was working late, so it was just the two of us with shovels… we eventually got her unstuck and out of the driveway… just as the plow guy showed up…
By rights, I should have been totally exasperated with the snow.
But I wasn’t. This was the first big snow fall of the year – an unusually mild winter so far. Yes in some ways, that’s a good thing. But Winter, without snow, is just cold, dark, dank, and dismal.
Physically, I was revved up after the shoveling, and after being cooped up all day, the pups were ready for a royal romp in the snow. And so, back outside I went. My little doggies had to plow a path for themselves – it was surprisingly deep for just one day’s snowfall. They alternated between following me as I broke the trail and exuberantly bounding ahead of me. Even without moonlight, because of the cloud cover, the fresh fallen snow coating everything was beautiful. And peaceful.
By now, the pups had tired a bit, and we had crossed onto our neighbor’s property, where we were able to walk more easily on the freshly pressed trails left by his snowmobile. He had gone in for the night; everybody else had finished snow shoveling, snow blowing, or plowing and had retreated indoors. We walked in a lovely stillness.
There is just enough open space where I live, that at moments like these, I am able to feel the earth. But the earth was asleep, blissfully unaware of the blanket that was being laid over her.
There is a point somewhere in winter, where everything seems to slow down. The holidays are over; life, at least on weekends, has slowed its pace. No big parties, no major events… even if you are a ski fanatic (I am not), it’s still a different pace.
It’s almost like the world has gone into a vegetative state. And in a very real sense, She has. The Goddess sleeps….
Winter. A period of rest and dormancy. Some animals hibernate the whole season, spending the period either in pregnancy or, birthing and nursing their young in secure burrows beneath the snow. Others may not go into total hibernation, but are less active during periods of severe weather. Others, like the deer, must continue to forage the best they can each and every day. Winter to them, represents a harsh Master of reality who guarantees no outcome….
I am not a big winter person. I don’t ski. I like to skate, but my feet get cold too quickly in my skates! I much prefer the warmth of the woodstove… To be honest, the only thing that gets me going outside in midwinter, is the prospect of exploring the woods.
Snow exposes the tracks of the wild creatures, allowing you to follow them at this time of year to their secret habits and sleeping places. A few years back, my faithful canine companion Jack loved these mid-winter explorations. Together we were able to follow and put together the habits of a local herd of deer… down to where they slept. (I had local hunters trying to pick my brain for the details….to no avail!)
That was a bad winter, deep snow, very hard on the local deer herds. Jack is no longer with me, and I have not yet retraced those steps in those woods with my current canine children….when the time is right we will.
This has been a mild winter so far, and while my husband and I have been rejoicing for the reduced demand on our oil tank (oil fuels hot water and heat only when the wood stove is not burning), I know winter serves its purpose.
Some life forms actually need this cold period to be fruitful. Buy a pack of delphinium seeds: a good supplier will tell you to put the seeds in the freezer before sowing. I ignored this advice one year, and as a result, experienced very poor germination. Next time I followed that advice, and now I have a steady crop of blooms (once established, they are great at self seeding!)
Apples… this was a science project in high school. Apple seeds taken from the core of a consumed apple, planted directly, did not germinate. The same seeds, mixed into a bag of potting soil and sand, that was stored in the refrigerator for two weeks, sprouted on subsequent planting.
Winter…this period of cold, darkness, seeming lifelessness and even death… is necessary.
What is the work that we need to do, in this dormant period? What are the aspects of our lives that require re-examining, re-arranging? What are the things that we need to clean out, to prepare for the potential of new growth? This is the pupose of winter. The cold silent stillness of contemplation. That hard work, that requires a quiet space and time apart.
I know I have my work cut out for me this winter; it is a blessing that I found the quiet still spaces this evening. Before I go to bed, I will go outside once again, my excuse being that the dogs need to pee. But when I go, I will take some apple quarters with me, to be left at the edge of our property, where I have seen the deer tracks before. As an offering to Cernunno’s children, who alone stand watch as the Goddess sleeps.
May you find the deep peace of midwinter, as the earth sleeps.