December 21st, 2003

caillebotte_man at his window

Happy Winter Solstice

Very late, the stars come out. The clouds have retreated to the high mountains to feed the snowfields. As the sky clears, it grows colder, but not cold enough to freeze the captive rain that yet drips from the pines, splashing in the lingering puddles that reflect trembling starlight. Deep darkness prevails between sky and water. The sliver of waning moon must have risen by now, but it is lost in the mountain's clouds, like one of those hermit sages in a Japanese poem. Eventually, it will clear the foggy rampart and bring those rumpled turrets a foretaste of the swiftly following day. Should the sky remain clear, I might wake to see the trees dried, and the remnant of leaves scattered on the freshly nourished lawn. A sunny afternoon would please me now; a bright winter solstice to remind me of the turn toward summer, and mark the passage of this longest night.

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caillebotte_man at his window

First Winter Night

The brief day swiftly passed, and the cold first night of winter has fallen. Lingering clouds to the west once again obscure Venus, but Orion strides up the eastern sky on his seasonal hunt. A bit of traffic disturbs the tranquility as people return from weekend trips or Christmas shopping in the valley towns. Otherwise, the forest lies quiet and dark, blanketing the rumpled vales and ridges of chilled land. A faint scent of wood smoke drifts by. I picture the landscape as seen from above, and I think of the winter moss which now cloaks the trunk of the mulberry tree, dense and lush and green after the recent rain. Were those clouds in the higher mountains nerved like hands, they would feel while brushing the forest what I felt when brushing that moss today. It is soft, almost like the fur of some sleeping animal, and warmer than the surrounding air. Touching the moss is one of the delights of the season. I never cease to be delighted that what was so brown and rough in summer has turned so bright and luxuriant, no longer crumbling at the touch, but vibrant and yielding. Each season has its own lives and losses. Winter is the mossy season, and its treasures are gathered in stillness.