Midwinter

Today is midwinter, the shortest day of the year, the longest night, the winter solstice.

I sit on the window seat and stare out through the rain-spattered glass. The garden is drab browns and greys, dormant, resting. Yesterday, I found tiny green shoots of some sort of bulb pushing up through the damp soil. Even in midwinter, there are a few signs of the spring to come. They sky is leaden, uniform grey clouds hanging low. A flock of crows wheel over the distant hill, black silhouettes gliding through the chill air. It’s not cold enough to snow but there’s that damp chill which seeps into your bones which even a hot bath and a glass of whisky has trouble chasing out.

I rest my chin on my hands and think about where I was last midwinter. I think about all that has occurred in the interim months. So many hours and days, so many thoughts and actions and choices. Yet the wheel of the year continues to turn, rolling onwards. And now I’m here again. Midwinter.

The window is cold against my shoulder as I stare out at the bleak garden. The trees are stark lines of ink. The flowers have faded, the plants resting. A robin hops up on to the bird table and pecks at the seed I put out there earlier. A second robin joins the first but the first robin chases the second one away. They zoom around the garden and over the hedge. Their flight disturbs a flock of sparrows which launches in to the air and they flap around each other, cheeping loudly. They settle back in to the hedge as a blackbird swoops down to the edge of the pond. Despite the cold, it jumps in to the shallows and washes vigorously, water droplets splashing everywhere.

A jay lands on the back of the bench. It’s soft brown plumage camouflages it against the bare branches behind. It turns a little to the side and there is a bright flash of blue. In the midst of its drab brown and black feathers are a few which are a tropical, jewel-like blue. It makes me think about the view I’ve been staring out at. I thought that it was bleak and grey and cold. I looked at the leafless trees and the flowerless garden and lamented the lost brightness of summer. Now, I look anew at the clean, geometric beauty of the tree branches, the variety of shapes of the evergreens, the depth of tones and shades.

The jay takes flight, glints of blue flashing with each wing flap. I feel my perspective shift. Rather than lamenting last summer and worrying about the year to come, I sit and watch what’s happening right now. I observe this moment. I watch for those bright flashes of astonishment and joy and light. I hold on to those, let them fill me, strengthen me.