Monday, January 17, 2011

cold, colder, coldest

It is January. It is past the middle of January. Everything is cold in Michigan. There are a few inches of snow covering the grass, gravel, and all things that grow and then sleep.

We have a 47 day old child living in our 107 (nearly 108) year old house with us. She is mighty and beautiful.

She is sitting with her mama in her mama's mama's rocker nursing. The rocker is resting in the same place where her mama's mama's mama died one and a half years ago.

Did I mention it is cold outside and that I have been reading Aldo Leopold (every winter I read A Sand County Almanac)? It is especially wonderful to start at the beginning of the book when it is still January. I reread January Thaw the other day with deep reverence for the cycles Leopold writes about--the cycles of seasons and living charging in dynamic force all around us all of the time. I marveled, again, at his subtle glorification of simplicity and the sacred readings he captured in the quick, quiet, momentary voyage of a skunk still heady from hibernation.

I suggest giving him a read if you never have and a reread if you have and liked it.

His call to observe our moments alive with the rest of our community (the land community/animal,animal community/animal, human community) is a a good one.

This winter many of my days have bled into streams of light upon my nights and my nights have rode dark waves on my mornings and afternoons. Time is strange in the world of baby human. But still there is the difference in temperature of a day versus a night--the chicken's water demonstrates the patterns of change in concrete (or icy) ways.

Even though we have been mesmerized by sleep deprivation and sleeping differently all together, I think my senses have been heightened to the subtle shifts of temperature throughout a January day, evening, and night. The cold of a crisp 11:00pm as I feed and water the chickens (yet again) before bed pierces a different, more alive, kind of frigid over my cheeks than the wetter cold of morning.

And my senses pay attention to all around me as I walk or ride in a more expansive way than I have felt before. This little animal being that has filled our house with her cries, poop, urine, and vomit, and soft face and hands and thighs--she has added another layer of sensitivity to my existing need to observe and witness and then act.

Leopold articulates:
"The months of the year, from January up to June, are a geometric progression in the abundance of distractions. In January one may follow a skunk track, or search for bands on the chickadees, or see what young pines the deer have browsed, or what muskrat houses the mink have dug, with only an occasional and mild digression into other doings. January observation can be almost as simple and peaceful as snow, and almost continuous as cold. There is time not only to see who has done what, but to speculate why."

She has added one more stripe of peace to my observations. She makes me speculate more than ever. She makes me pay more attention to the cycles of living, surviving, and dying, and re-birthing all around us. And, then she makes me want to work harder to make sure that we build a stronger land ethic in our community. She drives me out to the cold January mornings and nights and causes me to savor the expanse of sky peeking out to us from behind the light pollution in the darkness. She makes me glad to know the seasons, to witness them, to have them etched into my skin. (seriously, riding and footing it regularly in 15-25 degree weather--colder with windchill--is doing some mighty fine skin "damage" characterizing to my face). Of course, I cared about all of this before her, but there are no words to describe the deeper animal she has brought out in me. I like the cold (and yearn for the spring) even more than I did before.

No comments: