The darkest days of the year are the weeks either side of the winter solstice, when not just the light seems to have been sucked out of the sky in the UK, but also the colour from everything. During this time, traditions connected to light and thresholds abound. In our richly illustrated copy of The Wind In The Willows, Moley encourages Ratty out of his depression with images of the special joys of Midwinter. I’ve come to love the idea of a season of its own in these darkest weeks, a season outside of the usual march of the calendar, a time to take care of our souls and each other in the particular grey, gloom that envelopes the British Isles at midwinter.
That grey, gloom seemed to envelope our immune systems too this year. It feels like we’ve been ill endlessly with waves of viral chestiness, headaches and weariness. We’ve all had smatterings of days off but nothing would set us properly aright and we felt as though we were limping along.
Boxing Day dawned bright on our visit to family in Yorksire, the first such morning in weeks. The setting moon balanced huge, on the edge of the Dales in the distance, a shining pink orb. Wren and I watched it slip below the purple hills through a fretwork of dark tree limbs. In the opposite direction, sunlight blasted the houses, making windows shine. I wrapped my arms around Wren and felt her exhale at the sight. The year had turned.
The days are lengthening. That, and the general slowing of these dark days after the frenetic activity of the lead up to Christmas, despite continued work for those of us in healthcare, seemed to be the thing that healed us in the end. This dark season gives permission to switch off, tune out, disconnect, and then connect in the most important ways.
As always, an enormous thanks to all those who follow this blog and support my creative offerings to the world. It has been wonderful to have The Tiger Who Sleeps Under My Chair out on bookshop shelves and in readers’ hands. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Happy New Year one and all!