Yesterday when I walked outside, it felt like spring. There was that scent of warming earth and a temperature that didn’t demand a coat. As the day wore on, I could see the humidity hanging in the air. In the evening, I went to some friends for dinner and when I left to come home, the fog had moved in. This morning it was still here and stayed for the day, a heavy mist that made me think of T.S. Eliot’s reference to midwinter spring in the Four Quartets, “Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,/ Suspended in time between pole and tropic.” It really is its own season, reminding me of an August day on Scotland’s west coast—miserable for August, but really not too bad for January.
I’ve been in luck this winter. Usually, some time in September I start to dread winter, and have to remind myself to enjoy the glories of fall. This year, while I’ve been alert to the possibilities of darkness, I’ve been noticing the undisguised beauty of winter in the sky, the slant of its light, and the shape of the bare trees. Even the shortest day of the year seemed long enough.
It may be that I’ve turned a corner in my relationship to winter. It isn’t that I never noticed its beauty before, but I was usually looking for signs of spring as well. When there weren’t any, things seemed so dead. Now, however, they seem to be having a necessary rest, gaining force for the future. I suspect that it also has something to do with the mildness of last winter and this winter. It’s as though all the activities of late fall or early spring can be indulged—even though it’s full winter.
Snowbirds have been feeding in my courtyard for several weeks, probably not certain whether to continue their migration when there’s so much food and such nice shelter to hand. Spring will come sooner or later, whether we have days of snow and biting cold or not. In the meantime, I’m having a new look at winter.