Friday, December 6, 2013

the human condition

Spring, summer, and fall fill us with hope; winter alone reminds us of the human condition.

- Mignon McLaughlin

Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it.

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.

- Pietro Aretino

Let us love winter, indeed. It is some kind of a leap of faith to enter this season, wondering if we'll ever come out of it, or how.

Winter changes a person, maybe every season does, but winter in particular sends us to the deep within of our souls. We might find ourselves pondering things we wouldn't in summer. We allow ourselves more hours of melancholy, too, which must provoke thoughts unlike those of a light-filled summer, a colourful autumn.

And maybe in the harshness of the weather we become more fragile, but also kinder to ourselves, more sensitive to the human condition.

Maybe now, blossoms are beside the point. Maybe now, it's a matter of using what's been saved, using what's been stored up, gathered, even when you didn't know you were gathering.

Maybe it's time to notice the littlest birds, and see what they survive on.

One of the houses in our neighbourhood has a rose bush hedge. Which is a bit unusual for this climate. In summer it looks unruly, a bit awkward and leggy. It's never yet been very full of foliage or blooms. But walking by it today, the blooms stood out, those left. While I shot photographs, the dog nibbled at the rose hips. (Labs apparently have a taste for rose hips).

There was very little colour to see on our walk, and so these roses were particularly startling, against the snow, so deep now after days of it coming down.

And don't think the garden loses its
ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but
the roots are down there riotous.

- Rumi, from "Form Is Ecstatic"

We are a little like the garden in winter - seemingly quiet, and yet so much going on inside. Riotous. What a beautiful word for the joyful and at times tormented interior thoughts that collect when it's severely cold and has previously snowed for an entire week straight. Is it this way for you as well?

In December, it seems I crave solitude more than ever, silence more than ever, which is of course, a bit perverse. Yes, I do enjoy the holiday festivities, but also, they're far too much for me. They deplete me. And so, when my presence is not required, I do everything I can to be alone and quiet.

And so my defence of winter continues. And so it shall until spring, when winter will seem but a dream. A very long and very cold dream. 

Images like this last one will fade and fade until it will be impossible to believe in winter. Impossible to believe how much the snow loves the rose petals, to echo Lewis Carroll....(oh, so riotously....!)


  1. i love the way you write.
    crowds and noise also deplete me. even if it's crowds of people i care for and noise that i love.
    i crave the silence and supposed aloneness of winter all year round.
    you have said what my heart says to me. only here you have said it beautifully. thank you!

    1. thanks so much Tammy! lovely of you to say!

  2. Thank you for this breathing space - your blog, with its plentiful white space, wise words and quiet, appealing photographs is a pleasure.


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