Winter Surrounds Us

So, what does a burgeoning photographer do when the sun sets at 4:30 on a day only just begun, forcing us to make our peace with the every-year-surprising dark?  Somewhere in the northern reaches of our hemisphere just about now the days stay dark, the sun declining to peak past the horizon, and Persephone’s mythic absence sends plants to root, to sleep, to winter over.  I wanna root, sleep, winter over, larder filled by online retailers delivering for free, Netflix auto-pay in place, leaving my warm cave next year, writing my second annual “Spring is Here and it is Bright” post, feeling all traditional and oeuvre-creating albeit squinty-eyed and hungrily.

The flowers outside the window are Fall’s last roses, yellow to start with, a dark yellow now, droopy troopers clinging to the furthest nether-reaches of branches proudly, an homage to their own darned selves.  I don’t have the heart to dead-head them, and photos of the withered blossoms are a literal memento mori cliché, and I’m not propagating that vibe – today, at least. 

The lawn, or blanket of dandelions that remain evergreen and low for the Winter, providing a nursery for snails, slugs and other ground-dwelling life-forms that are better off with me being ignorant of them, stretches out like a faithful blanket surrounding the house.  A moat of green fringed with the remains of last year’s vegetation, uncleared witnesses to birth, life, decay, then birth again.

There are chemicals here.  I don’t use them, but I could.  Well, probably not, but it could come to that.  Likely by the time I get to the plastic jugs with faded labels under the porch the materials inside would have coagulated into a spent mess the strength of sun tea.  For the best.

The jugs and bugs are safe for now.  I lurk indoors, pondering the snow in our forecast, glad to be at low elevation.  It should be wet here with the warm coastal rain we used to suffer from but now, decades of rolling drought cycles later, we miss and speak of the near-constant seasonal dampness and precipitation with poignancy.  Our world quickly comes back to green and lush following the Summer yellowing, and our populace so expectant of the historic photophilic verdance as to express an unbecoming entitlement to water.  We pour treated water on the ground to show the neighbors we can afford it, then complain of the expense.  I like a lawn that makes its own living, and the survivors are welcomed warmly, the dried up husks of those for whom the climate is no longer hospitable, or whose roots can’t reach the lowering water table, like rhododendrons, are eventually removed.  The small, dead rhodies look like Charlie Brown Christmas trees, just rust-colored and weathered, not evergreen and pine-scented.

I love the rain, and it’s so infrequent lately that I look for multiple signs of its presence if suspected:  the smell of wet, dusty asphalt, a patch of dry gravel, testimony of a parked car now gone, the taptaptap on the bushes nearby as leaves are bombarded with large, glorious raindrops, maybe an accompanying wind from the southwest, the birds tucked in and the frogs tentatively coming out, finally hydrated and urged to live out their cycles while the conditions allow it.  Finally, rain!  You can feel everything alive in the environment sigh, relax, enjoy the life-giving hydration.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  A cyclone bad enough to have the word “bomb” added to its name bears down on the west coast.  We are just damp, but less than an hour away south, east or west one would need chains to get through the passes.  I-5 north and south of the Oregon-California border is simply closed, and the news says hundreds of people are stranded trying to get to their holiday plans.  The media also tell us that the rest of the country is having historically cold and bad weather.  Our little valley is on some fringe of two weather monsters and all I have to report from the safety of home is a little rain.  I’ll start by being thankful for that.

{The day after Thanksgiving}

I-5 is open.  The morning’s frost remains in shadow.  The fog has burned off, tricking one into thinking there is warmth outside.  Nope, just an Arctic brightness, a breath made visible as it trails from the intrepid, hopefully jacketed and mittened human.  The weather that was feared did not reach us.  The rest of the world seems weather-beaten and news-worthy, and I wish everyone the best, and safe travels, safe lives.  Our turn on the wheel of weather’s vagaries will come later.

And for that, I am grateful.

Author: Martha in the Moment

Just another human navigating this crazy era, trying to make sense of the lightning-fast changes that keep coming at all of us. Benedictions, all.

One thought on “Winter Surrounds Us”

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