Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Older and Wilder

I love the short winter days and the long, nuanced nights: I love getting up in dark, and picking my way to our little sun room, to squint up at the clouds packing themselves around the moon, or at the few stray stars vanishing westward. Sun is all very well, but a little goes a long way with me.

It's partly because I love this time of year, the long dream time, that I resent the holidays so much: all that aggressive, brassy cheer, all the noise and glare, which the perpetrators themselves confess is the expression of their own fear of the quiet and the dark. I like the quiet and the dark. I don't need the sun's company first thing in the morning every day. I can find my way about the house by feel, or the odd reflection of moon or streetlight, slantwise through beveled glass. It perplexes me that the same people who love being up late at night -- when, in case you hadn't noticed, it is also cold and dark -- make such a fuss about the cold dark winter mornings. It's supposed to be cold and dark. It's January. The earth has tilted this way for a long time.

I love walking, morning or evening, in the dark, with the towers of cloud swaying over my head, and slowly tumbling down to the horizon line. The glimpsed stars, marking the wheeling heaven. Not the boasting sun, which blots everything else out and pretends to be walking alone. The night sky obviously wheels in concert, every star inset in some larger movement. The sun encourages us to believe in its agency, but the night sky invites us to acknowledge that it is we who are moving, we who are whirling around and around and around. Everything seems to be falling down the slippery west of heaven, until you see it, actually see that it's the horizon climbing. Once seen, never forgotten.

Or you can crouch inside your house with all the lights on, and your garish lighted Christmas tree, and pretend your little human story is the fixed center of the universe. But it's still out there, the stars and the surging horizon. It's all far older and wilder than we are.


Kurt said...

As one who also rises before dawn, I could feel this, feel myself padding through the dark, quiet house.

Kristen Burkholder said...

I will not rise before dawn in winter. I will, however, rise in the murky light of some kind of sunrise, and light candles, and then feed the cat. And then boil water and make tea. And sit for a bit.

Once again you companion me, this time through the dark!

thank you for writing

YourFireAnt said...

I too get up in the dark, and find that the light of a candle is about as much as I can stand at that time, and is enough to help me find my way around the house without opening curtains (which would let in streetlight).