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In the words of Shelley: “The cold earth slept below; Above the cold sky shone…”
… and flowering long before its time, this little narcissus. Damp and bedraggled it may be but light from its petals shines out. Crouched beneath a bare, leafless shrub affording little shelter I found this little fellow today, the first cold day I’ve noticed this winter and the first time I was glad of the scruffy gloves stuffed in my pockets as I wandered around the garden.
The sky, stripes of pearl pink and glinting silver, high, high above the scribbled branches of the naked cherry tree. Birdsong, such birdsong for January, crisp in the chill air. Notes like needles follow tits and finches as they sweep and dart from and to the feeders. Fat pigeons waddle on the sidelines, wishing we would all get a move on and go back inside and leave them to feed on fallen husks.
With glowing cheeks and tingling ears I follow the dogs on their accustomed path between the dozing flower beds noticing a peek of green here and there as slumbering perennials shoot tentative spears into the winter air. Wondering…as I am…whether the worst of the winter weather is yet to come and wishing it would just get on with it!
These days between Christmas and the new year, especially as someone who does not ‘do’ shopping, feel a little unusual to me this year.
This year, with its higher than average temperature, has not even felt much like midwinter. My thoughts turn to those battling with flood and devastation in the north of the country but somehow even that feels remote. As always when watching other people’s disasters I am left with a sense of helplessness and powerlessness all of which feeds in to this dull, end-of-year glumness.
As a child I knew these late December as the backend, which of course made me giggle as it seemed like a rude name. In those far off days my only concern, school not being a happy place most of the time, was when term would begin. and so every day at home was a gift.
Thinking on ‘the backend’ now it seems oddly apt. It is an awkward expression, a blunt instrument. Time was when I would be able to put all this into a poem and be done with it, but words too seem like coshes in my hand rather than things of beauty and expression.
As usual I have been leafing through my poetry books to find someone else’s words to match my mood and at last I have found expression of something like my feelings today.
As happens more and more often it is in Emily Dickinson’s poetry that I discover something close to my own feelings:
The Sky is Low, the Clouds are Mean
The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A travelling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.
A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.
December 2015 , though showing no signs of snow, has certainly lost its diadem. However, what is lost can be found and that is the message I hold in my thoughts for the people who have lost so much in the storms and floods.
Image copyright Andrew Whittaker