back to our regularly scheduled programming

IMG_3985Just when it feels like we’re stuck, there’s a change in the air.

It’s been almost two weeks since we returned home from Christmas Up North, and yet it hasn’t felt like anything resembling a regular schedule these days.  Between the snow storms and the cancellations and the shifts from moist and foggy to breathtakingly clear and bitter cold, nothing feels orderly, or regular.  And since my beloved has been spending his time upstairs, editing a pile of case studies that have been hanging over his head for months, and since our eldest has a birthday just a week after New Year’s Eve, which always takes me by surprise, and given that certain schools don’t require their undergrads to attend classes until January is practically over with…let’s just say, the number of times I’ve had to come up with a creative answer to the “What’s for dinner?” question  has been higher than usual, for longer than expected. It’s the flip side of the empty nest syndrome:  I’d forgotten that four people can make a gallon of milk disappear in two days, and that last night’s leftovers don’t always stretch into a second meal, when there’s more than two mouths to feed.  Fancy that!

IMG_3888I made lots of soup, these past few weeks, which kept disappearing.



But despite the lack of normalcy in our days,  what has returned, right along with the changing phases of the moon, have been those universal signs of the seasonal shift, of time marching on as a new year dawns. Those incremental extra minutes of daylight, for starters–just enough to make you notice, somewhere around 5PM, hey, look, two weeks after the solstice, and it isn’t pitch black dark out!  Then there’s the fractional upward shift that the sun makes as it arcs across the sky, from skulking along the horizon to heading ever so slightly higher above the treeline.  Together the added minutes and extra amplitude combine to make for a glorious gift of just a little more light, every single day. I love that first awareness of forward progress, away from the darkness.  I love the sense of the sun is visibly reaching up, aiming to relieve us from the chill of December, just that little bit more, every single day.

IMG_3835The frost, particularly where the ice storm clung to each branch, made the dark days a little lighter.

Okay, there’s also been the shift from thaw to deep freeze and back again, to a weather front that turned the earth brittle with cold, and the wind whippy and raw.  But that’s what happens around here in January—freezes and melts and then more snow.  You might not be able to predict those shifts, but the phases of the moon, seeming to wax from crescent to quarter to full  before a week has passed–those phases hit their marks, whatever the weather might be up to, no matter what the academic calendar says.  My family’s spring semester may be a few weeks off still, but winter has turned a corner, already.  

IMG_4099Hello, moon! How’d you get so big, so fast?

* * * * *

The thing that I’d missed most since the holidays was my regularly scheduled perambulations, and the check-ins with mother nature that these outings elicit.  It took a trip to the reservoir on the coldest day of the year to get me back to my beloved routine of meandering, listening, letting my mind wander, giving over to my cathedral of solace.  Truth be told, I barely raise my pulse when I walk these days, what with watching out for ice and checking for birds of prey, hoping for more peregrine falcon sightings.  The competitive athlete I used to be has made peace with the mental health bonus of these outings, even when the aerobic benefits are nil.  It works for me, to know that fresh air  is its own treasure, even when I don’t break a sweat. That’s what the stationary bike is for in January, right?

Here’s a little bit of what I bumped into, on my first tours de Fresh Pond of 2014:

IMG_3944First off, the loop around the reservoir always seems longer in the wintertime, when the leaves are gone. No hiding the distance behind the greenery.  What looks like open water here is just the part that got scoured in the wind.  It’s all iced over.  No more flocks of any waterfowl these days.

IMG_3936I took a picture of this stand of, hmm, Jerusalem artichokes maybe? back in early December, and was impressed to see them still standing tall, several storms and weather systems later.

IMG_4038There’s a high fence to keep folks out of the reservoir proper, but this little side pond was perfect for pickup hockey practice on a cold afternoon.

IMG_4033I love the shadows of the tall pines on the hill as they stretch across the reservoir. I also love the sound of the air bubbles rumbling beneath the ice, looking for a place to burp themselves out.

IMG_4051I also have a particular fondness for oak trees that insist on holding tight to their foliage, all winter long.  They’re no fools.  It’s cold out here!

* * * * *

The arctic cold has subsided, for now.  There’s a warm spell headed our way.  It’ll snow again later, I’ll be spreading salt and shoveling before long.  But no matter what else happens, that moon keeps heading towards fullness, and back away again.  The sun rides a higher arc, until it doesn’t.  Together, the forces of nature are pointing me back to normal, back to a rhythm that follows the seasons.



2 comments on “back to our regularly scheduled programming

  1. LH says:

    always so grateful for the steadiness of the moon in our world.
    there is a beautiful girl in our town, bi-lingual from Chile I think, with 3 toddlers, an oyster farmer with her husband, an artist–anyway her world, as you can imagine is hectic, filled with meal prep, bandaids on bruises, snowman building, reading to sleepy, just been sledding eyes and yet, when she walks… the world stops. just watching her walk calms my soul. she walks slowly with a gentle stride taking in every bird in flight, every whisper of a breeze on the marsh, and she (Valee) can be seen all over freeport and south freeport during a 2 hour window. She says it is “her time” and how she spends it is a marvel. So, no worries about the aerobic level, just take in the world in peaceful, open strides. It is your time.
    love, L

  2. Christine Voronovitch says:

    Regularly scheduled program hmmm…I wish. My life hasn’t been “regular” in a while.Though it is trying to be now.
    After living with and dealing with my husband’s deep depression and hospitalizations, I realize how easy it is to fall into pain and passivity. With the arrival of a new year I hope to accomplish those things that fill my heart with joy. More reading, teaching dog training classes, doing those quiet soul satisfying activities like sitting in the hot tub with my husband, watching the birds at my feeder, picnics at the beach and all those things that let me smile deep in my soul with the satisfaction of a mature life coming full circle. C

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