For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, winter approaches with dimmer days and longer nights. It’s not cold here in Florida, but there a wan tone feels durable, tending toward grey, long shadows, a weariness and pall which carol the year’s decline.
Further North, a vaster chill gathers and deepens.
For our neighbors south of the equator, there is an equidistant suggestion of spring; a flush to morning skies and widening buds.
Inbreath and outbreath; one half trudges toward winter while the other breathes a springtide sigh of relief.
There are inversions. As the I Ching says, to and fro goes The Way. While light recedes to a nadir in winter, it is yet a creative time in the inward spaces, perhaps the most fertile of all. Certainly there is flush of good cheer to the coldest winter night. And on the other side of Earth where springtide courses run, it is a time to be out, planting gardens and ramping up new projects.
Of late, pollutants have marred the clarity of these movements. The Anthropocene brews monster hurricanes at the Equator and far East, sets fire to wetlands and foments vast uncertainty in the fast-heating poles. However we may have acclimated to our local weather, changing notes are part of the mix.
Along with the weltering weather, the human community hunkers down to battle other extremes—pandemic, political instability, disrupting norms of truthful discourse and community. The 21st century so far is behaving far more uncivilized than the last!
So: A tempered seasonal, imbued both with traditional cheer and a rattling chill of change in the eaves.
In my country, this week we celebrate Thanksgiving, a celebration of family and community much eroded by capitalism and pandemic. My wife and I will celebrate at home, perhaps to Zoom with distant family; but without aren’t in the mix any more, and no kids (just cats), we’re uncertain about the entire holiday season. A tree with lights? Wreath for the door? Any more? Who knows.
But still we can give thanks. Like Rilke writes in his Sonnets to Orpheus, “praising is what matters!”
Come these Florida Novembrals, breezy with strolling fronts of light and cloud, wisps of rain, sighs in the trees, time is afoot, the sky hiking great lengths across the Earth. It’s not cool or warm, just alternations of wan; days pass quickly into long nights. In my drinking days it was an end of the world time, weeks of blackout drinking and the world about dazed and thirsty for happy hour: now it is inner and nourishing, fleeting fast toward the Christmas holiday. Advent season still approaches and yet feels already over. As David Spangler wrote in Festivals of Manifestation, this is the innermost season of the Christ, giving birth to a great sense of Being within: In these latter days of November, the coming month of December feel almost inaugural.
Let us praise the season we enter, this time in which we still exist, and give thanks for the bounty we are yet surrounded by, the nurture of what’s given.