I awoke to a hard frost this morning. As I made my way across the grass to the graveside of my beloved dog, with a mug of coffee clasped in my hands, the steam rising, whirling into the cold morning air, the frozen grass and fallen leaves crackled and crunched underfoot. The sky was clear and hundreds of stars burned brightly in it’s dark depths and a thin sliver of the new moon hung as though suspended.
Beneath the now bare branches of the linden tree, I stood for long moments, don’t ask me how long for time escaped me completely. Long enough for my toes to grow numb and my cheeks and forehead too. I just stood there, silently in the quiet garden while the world, or at least my small patch of it slept. Even the birds were quiet. My mind drifted from thoughts of my beloved dog, to wondering if the small hedgehog that resides in my garden, either in the thicket of ivy or perhaps under the shed where rabbits once burrowed, or maybe even in the log pile in the corner was doing okay and how soon would it be until it’s winter nap. I know it hasn’t begun it’s slumber yet as the food I leave out nightly for the little critter is always gone. I think it’s heavy enough to survive the cold months in hibernation but still I wonder and I worry.
I cast my eyes around this garden, the night garden, transformed beneath a layer of frost that catches the pale celestial light and reflects it as though thousands of tiny diamonds have embedded themselves into and upon the land. The red berries of the cotoneaster and how soon the birds will pluck them from the branches, one of the last sources of food this side of winter, grateful for the overgrown tree and it’s plentiful supply. Of the thick ivy that grows and the cover it provides to so many creatures. Of the bare cherry tree, it’s branches reaching ever skywards, it’s leaves long fallen.
I wonder too at our disconnection from this, from the beauty of the world before us. The beauty found in the nature that is right in front of us.
We get so caught up in the festive season, rushing to get ready for Yule or for Christmas, in the spending of money on stuff we don’t really need and the worry that comes with the spending of money we can ill afford to spend, that could be put towards better use.
We get so caught up that we don’t notice the natural beauty of the world right in front of our noses, the beauty of the season, of the outdoors. Of nature. Of a cold winter’s night and the sunrise that follows; the sight of a blackbird plucking red frosted berries; the song of the robin, clear as a bell as it perches on a street lamp or perhaps the garden fence. Such things are easy to miss in the hustle and bustle of the season and yet it is these small occurrences and many others beside that truly signify what this season means.
These things are what make the season. The natural ebb and flow of activity. Of knowing when to slow down and when to speed up.
And so we too must take our cues from nature. We must slow down and give ourselves time and space to just be. We must retreat into ourselves and enjoy the small pleasures of the everyday, the beauty of life.
The festive season is one of good cheer but not at the cost to ourselves and our relationship with and our place within nature; not at the cost of our mental and physical well-being, something I see as being inextricably linked to the natural world. We are connected to nature, no matter how much we have forgotten.
And so I make my way back to the warmth of my house, filled with the beauty of the new day and I know that these things truly represent the season as we edge ever closer towards the winter solstice.