Monday, February 24, 2014
The singing cardinal of winter
THIS LONG WINTER has been hard. Winter is a hardship.
Hard for our wild relations, who struggle to find food and stay warm.
Hard for bloggers (weather woes are widespread, from California to Canada to Devon).
Hard for lovers of the outdoors who are not equipped with high-tech cold weather gear and must retreat too quickly into dry, furnace-fired, unwild air.
Hard for homeowners who live on corner lots and must shovel out their walkways and driveways by hand, in a winter of 50+ inches of snow (ahem). The frost line has crept down so far into the earth that even in the southern half of the state, underground water pipes have frozen and burst.
Hard for the roads--which, after months of warming, refreezing, chemicals and plow blades, have given up holding themselves together and have already disintegrated, leaving potholes of epic dimensions--and the drivers who must negotiate them during blizzards, Winter Storm Warnings, Snowmageddons and Snowpocalypses.
In previous winters, I would have been whining about winter with the best of them.
I don't know what has happened, or how it's happened, but my inner kaleidoscope has shifted and all the colored shards have lined up in a less pointy and jagged configuration. After decades of living here, finally I accept that winter is a time of hardship.
A sensible position--but one I've mostly managed to avoid up to this point.
Anyway, how ridiculous is it to resist winter? It is a fact impossible to ignore or wage battle on. Resistance does nothing to make it go away--it just puts one at odds with what is beyond our power to change, with what is ever-so-emphatically-real and HERE.
And resistance to reality just makes it impossible to love your life and where you are in it every day, doesn't it?
So, thinking of winter as a time of hardship feels right to me. If a person isn't experiencing this season's hardships, then she isn't being present to it at all. And I want to be here, not constantly living a life wishing I were elsewhere.
The paradox is, as I let go of resistance to the hardships of winter, these things became something to just get on with and negotiate, without drama or martyrdom.
Hardships are hard; but it doesn't follow that "hard" equals "bad." (I make this distinction to myself because for most of my life I have been exactly the kind of person who sees "hard" as "bad.")
But the hard-not-bad hardship is not the only thing to notice about this winter.
Just as much, more than anything maybe, is the beauty: A balm, and a blessing, and a long, cold, strange song of north wind.
And oh my love, my shining white ice palace of a home, with your snow-heaped silences, your singing cardinal at dawn, your white radiance flooding through every window and your utter and exquisite loveliness from dawn to dusk, you bring tears to my eyes. You fill up my heart as never before, and I am grateful.