Ireland’s Covid cases have skyrocketed in the last few days and we are headed for a heavy lockdown – due to be announced in a few minutes.
The world feels shaky and fragile in so many ways but today I glimpsed hope under the bare Hydrangea by our garden gate. A clump of darling snowdrops smiled up at me with their fresh green leaves and tiny buds showing white. If ever there was a brave, resilient flower, the snowdrop has to be the winner. Just seeing this beauty emerging from the sodden ground made everything seem so much brighter and it was as if hope had come to rescue a bad situation. Nature has such a precious heart.
Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know what despair is; then winter should have meaning for you.
I did not expect to survive, earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect to waken again, to feel in damp earth my body able to respond again, remembering after so long how to open again in the cold light of earliest spring–
afraid, yes, but among you again crying yes risk joy
December 21st is a major day on my calendar because it marks the end of the dark, dark days of the year. Today in Ireland, sunrise was at 8.32am and sunset at 4.20pm. Last light is at 5.01 – that’s just in 12 minutes time, as I write.
It’s like nature knew today was Winter Solstice. The sun didn’t bother to come out and the clouds were almost touching the ground. But, my precious sea was showing white with lovely fluffy waves and the bulbs that I planted in hope back a few months ago seemed to spring up overnight as it knowing that their time is fast arriving.
I usually make a pilgrimage to one of out local dolmens on December 21 to celebrate the day but my sprained ankle is still restricting me in terms of walking on anything but the most even of even ground.
However, I am at the local dolmens in spirit and remembering times when we lived near Newgrange in Co. Meath, which is such a special place for Winter Solstice people.
It’s been a dark year with the pandemic hanging over us all and we still have a good deal to Winter out but there IS light ahead if we remain patient and treasure every little glimmer along the way.
I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. (Og Mandino)
One of my favourite occupations is deadheading flowers in the garden and seeing all the new growth beneath. It always gives me hope and connects me to a lifetime of being in the garden.
Part of deadheading in December is having red-breasted robins for company and being able to see birds on the bare branches.
I often think that we, as people, could probably do with some deadheading betimes to ensure that we are able to thrive and realise our potential.
I’ve been pondering what such deadheading might look like and have come to the conclusion that it may well be as simple as the short spells in the garden or even a passing pinch of a single old viola bloom as I head out the gate. So, here’s a few examples of human deadheading that work for me:
#1. Going for a brisk walk, preferably by the sea or along a riverbank;
#2. Soaking in a warm bath;
#3. Getting carried away by a beautifully shot film;
#4. Dancing madly around the kitchen to old fashioned Rock n’ Roll;
#5. Seeing swans in full flight
#6. Sharing a laugh that feels like it will never end;
There’s lots of things I can’t fathom and these are just three:
#1. How can people walk/run by the sea or deep in the country with earphones in? For me the sounds of nature are magnificent and I could never imagine anything being more soothing, motivating or entertaining.
#2. Why do people flock to beauty spots when they are packed? That’s the very time I avoid them. I would much prefer to see a place of beauty, like the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare when it is damp and drizzly and not full of swarms of people than to be surrounded by a ‘maddening crowd.’
#3. How can people be so fixated on Christmas gatherings that they are prepared to risk spreading Covid like wild fire? Is this to do with nostalgia or short-sightedness or …..
The word that keeps floating into my head today is ‘contrasts.’ In part, it is driven by the US Election results and the differences between Biden and Trump, even though they are similar in terms of being older, white males.
It is also to the fore because November is a month of curious contrasts and ones which I seem to notice more and be more appreciative of because of what can sometimes seem like the greyness of the month.
This morning, it is dull and dank here with cloud almost touching our heads but as I was coming in our gate a glint of bright orange caught my eye from the Berberis bush and the Mahonia out the back has turned her gleaming yellow lights on as if putting on a bedside light in the depths of night.
The contrast that has perhaps struck me most relates to mindsets. Joe Biden’s litany of personal tragedies would be enough to defeat a huge number of people. His courage in the face of such hard knocks is nothing short of inspirational. I have no idea how he will fare as President but I think he has shown that there are alternatives to giving up in the face of adversity.
We do not live an equal life, but one of contrasts and patchwork; now a little joy, then a sorrow, now a sin, then a generous or brave action.
So, the clocks fell back in Ireland last night but the three dogs that populate our house are still tuned in to Summertime.
They sleep in different rooms because they have very different personalities and preferences but once one hears me opening even one eye, the morning chorus begins.
Mornings are a magical time for me as I am the person who gets to experience the three of them greeting the day.
Puppy Stan does a special dizzying twirl when he sees me coming and sometimes I wonder if he will take up hammer throwing for the inaugural doggy Olympics. He races around the garden as if doing training laps and then whizzes into the kitchen in search of his breakfast.
Meanwhile, the flying saucer upstairs has leapt from his bed and tears down the stairs like a man on a mission. He’s the fluffy mixum-gatherum one who is totally besotted with son.
Last,but very much not least, is the gentle hound, who always catches my eye with a look of gratitude before he dashes towards the garden and a reunion with the fluffy one. They have their garden haunts to check out and then when they see me arriving with breakfast, the gentle hound looks up at me and eyes a ‘thank you’ before he even glances at his dish.
When I let that pair in again, the fluffy one plays games trying to ensure that he his reunited with son ASAP.
The gentle hound always manages to find a bit of my bare flesh and kisses me with his wet nose. I so love him for his sweet gestures.
They are all quiet now but their contentment is nothing to mine after this life-enhancing show of love, appreciation and sheer exuberance through such different doggy personalities.