Winter-SkyThe deep cold has let up, yet I remain largely house bound. Last Friday I had outpatient surgery. As a person who had Bulbar Polio I find it takes me several days to recover from general anesthesia. I am groggy and sleepy, and appear to be settling deeply into an interior life. I am, I imagine, very much like the bears.

This dive into the deeply interior is familiar. When I had polio I was housebound (post hospital) for many months, including that first winter. Even now, there is a part of me who wishes to remain indoors in the cold times. As I age, this desire seems to strengthen. Each autumn I look forward to the coming of the cold, the changing, jewel-like play of light, and the gathering snow, ice, and darkness. At the same time, I know I will suffer the late effects of Polio, the impossibly cold limbs and jagged fatigue, and the gnawing depression.

Of course I am not alone in facing the challenge of winter. The other late afternoon I was puttering in the sun-room when I looked up and saw a large cat rapidly climbing the small hill behind our home. No, it was not a cat, but rather a small, striking young fox! It made the crest of the hill through snow and ice and was gone.

This has been a cold winter and we have added a second bird feeder. On bitter days the birds literally cover the smaller feed, devouring seed, and forcing us to refill. Ice has thickened in the bays and coves, although after a few days of thaw it is most likely untrustworthy; we have yet to hear of trucks going through the ice.

Since my surgery I have settled in, wrapped in an electric blanket, before the wood stove. I sit and doze, drifting in and out of daily consciousness. At the moment I am writing in the office, looking out towards the lake and mountains. The day is warm, being well above freezing yet dark; streaks of Mediterranean blue alternate with cirrus clouds, providing precious little light.

I am aware of a profound ambivalence toward the cold; I dread it even as I long for its arrival. Winters in California were simply too easy and predictable, so many years ago I moved back north and east. Now, here in Vermont, winters are becoming progressively milder as if in response to my increasing inability to manage the cold. However, instead of a boon I experience the shifting climate as a threat; warming tears at the very fabric of our local ecosystems as well as the mythic underpinnings of my experience.

Cold is, I think, very much at the center of the Dreaming of this place. I know the Dreaming is resilient, yet I am human and aging and hold things as they have been close to my heart. The sadness I feel is for many beings, for Pachamama, and for me. I also know that at some point, in days or millennia, the cold will return.

16 thoughts on “Cold

  1. Michael, I’m glad you are home safe and wrapped in a nice warm blanket. I hope pain and depression abate and that you find spring in your heart and home, if not in the outside environment. Appreciate your meditations here. Be as well as you can be.

    1. Thanks, Ben. I have come to appreciate words that have atmosphere, so your description of my writing feels greatly gratifying. I seem indeed to be on the mend, although the healing is predictably slow and I am impatient.

  2. i do revel being outside. (i really have to make it point of getting bundled up because i don’t like being cold. i have to be prepared to be outside in the cold.) especially when it snows. it’s so quiet and wonderful. and when it gets really cold (-38 C up here!) like it was at the beginning of the year, i can only bear being outside only when necessary. i’d rather be inside where it’s warm and usually in bed, reading or sleeping. it’s weird that i get more tired at these times. like a bear. and it’s good to be like that. gives you time to relax, rest, dream, and heal.

    stay bundled up and keep yourself warm my friend. i hope that the heat and the rest offers you much healing during this hibernation.

    1. Thanks, Vera. I believe the coldest temps I have experienced were about -50 F windchill. That was close to unbearable. I find the woods to be sheltered enough to allow me to put up with the cold, or rather, I used to. Now not so much.

      Yes, inside, resting and healing and dreaming is a delight!

  3. I felt every word. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Your story reminded me of the Aboriginal concept of “dadirri” – a siilent awareness, waiting and watching.

    There is a deep spring inside of us,
    a vast silence like the desert.

    Here, in this space.

    Time and timelessness,
    peace in silent awareness.
    I listen and wait,
    all that matters is Now.

    We watch the seasons come and go,
    watch the moon wax and wane,
    wait for the fruit to ripen,
    watch our children grow,
    sit with our grief.

    Silence is our gift,
    we welcome it,
    call upon it,
    and it calls us.

    Listen, watch, wait,
    this will determine what we are to do.
    Quiet, gentle, strong, patient.
    No need to hurry, nothing is more important than Now.
    Being still brings peace and understanding.

    a stronger peace than mindfulness.
    A deep peace,
    grounded, over aeons.

    Dadirri is the sap and strong roots of the tree,
    it is the flow of the river,
    the sunrise and the sunset.

    Deep respect for all things,
    and their ways
    of being, knowing, and doing.

    1. This is a profoundly moving song/poem. It says everything I have tried to say, and much more concisely than I have found words to do. I am immensely grateful that you have shared it.

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