Sunday, 31 October 2010

Finding Breath in Winter

For several years I have wondered if I may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, but then I relax and back away from the hypochondriacal tendencies and into the warmth of a cardigan and fleece blanket. Next I invite my cats onto my lap for communal warming. I want to think it is the ebb and flow, the seasonal turns our human bodies must obey, or as my yoga teacher would say, the yin and yang.

The summer makes us slow with its heat, while the winter calls for a brisk walk or turning over earth in the garden to churn our muscles and give our bodies the warmth that is so plentiful in summer. Winter is contemplative, to summer’s humour.

In the spring I felt like a newborn, plump with desires for the year, plans. After my defrosting I was aglow with the sentiment that blooming was ahead, progress, long hours of sunlight. Of course, the days again will shorten and the green things float back down to the ground. The leaves provide autumn its palette with their color change and eventually become food for the worms underfoot.

It is now the end of October, and I recently bought a new raincoat to bridge the gap between late summer and early winter. It hasn't yet seen many days because the cold arrived too soon and a heavier covering is required. Nearly everyone you meet mentions the return of “dark nights” (although they come around each year they are still a phenomenon which must be spoken of). My green-fingered endeavours have proved a modest success. I have potatoes, petite onions, a few bulbs of garlic among other things. The parsnips are still pushing underground waiting for the frost to bestow flavor. Some things have flowered early and others have flowered late, flowered for longer than expected, or not flowered at all. I have learned that next year I won’t be so calculating in my attempts. I will lean more towards experimentation without a fear of failure. Most of the time, things find a way to grow.

In these next cold months instead of giving in to moods of melancholy, I will empathize with the snow crocus bulbs. Having just been planted they rest beneath the surface, in waiting, and in spring I will monitor their (my) peep above ground, a harbinger of beauty to come.

Let me introduce you to Georgie (right) and Axle (left). Friends since infancy.

And a few of the many local sheep. I'm afraid I can't tell you their names.

Stay warm!

xx Laura

Sunday, 10 October 2010

What Lucy Built

There's something about standing in an empty, curtainless house, catching light in all directions. An old house, one that used to hold things I now use in my apartment: tea cups, vases, bedside tables. The one where my mother first learned to bake a cake, my grandmother made dresses, my grandfather sold gas and candy to driversby. Two store front windows later framed Mammaw's sewing machine and my mother's wrought iron bed. We'd park in the gravel and skip up the side walk. A yellow jacket once stung my cheek upon opening the screen door. The place still smells of moth balls and Red Man tobacco. It's something like home.

Being there means dreaming back and forth, wondering what will be of this house and if it will include me. Regardless, in my mind, I trim the shrubs, plant gardens, paint the shutters green. I sip coffee on the side porch and the trees wave sun and shadows over my face. They are old and have seen three generations sit there and throw wishes into their branches.

It's common to get caught in the future. In our minds, we run sprints to the end of the present and crank our necks trying to see what comes next. Whether the impulse grows from excitement or boredom, we miss out on the fruits of the moment, which reminds me of a lovely poem by Wendell Berry.

What We Need Is Here

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

Before I left the house that day, I pulled the low-hanging light bulb string and climbed the stairwell. In one of the small bedrooms, stacks of hat boxes lined the walls. I ran my finger through the dust coating one of them and opened it to find a fine, fancy hat adorned with feathers and black netting. Naturally, I put it on and walked over to the abandoned vanity. There, in the dingy reflection was Mammaw's hat sitting on my head five sizes small. And naturally, I missed her and her little head in a house begging to be made a part of someone's present. But mixed somewhere in the rustling trees and floorboard creeks, Berry's words soothed me: What we need is here. What we need is here.

xo Corrie Lynn