The Wintery MixFeb 02, 2023
Riding the emotional and physical wave of winter
January. January. January. She just slides in under the radar on the coattails of holiday frenzy and disappears as quickly as she arrived. We are left feeling like a bird who just flew into a glass pane, stunned...how did that happen? And then we come back to our senses. February has arrived.
But let’s talk about January for a minute. She is named for the Roman God Janus; protector of gates and doorways. Janus is depicted with two faces, one looking into the past, the other into the future. Isn’t that such a perfect visual of the push/pull duality of human nature? The calendar tells us to leave a year behind and to overfill the new one with resolutions and ambition. Maybe you can relate to this mental tug-o-war?
For me, I strangely felt as if January was suspended in one sense and moving way too fast in another. I couldn’t quite get my arms around her. I felt as if I missed a week or two. I had this sense that I was always a little behind and never quite settled. That said, I was present and somehow managed to get done all that needed to be done. Two faces, two hearts two realities. Was I in the archway of time and space?
I was confused with this January, was Janus on break? Was he distracted? Was he holding onto too much of the past, not letting January do her thing and grab ahold of me? The temperatures were too mild, the days too fast. I hadn’t quite fallen into my cadence with Mother Earth and settled into my deep winter mood. I didn’t need layers yet, I didn’t grab for the comfort foods and movie marathons on the snowy days hunkering down. And on the other hand, there was a feeling of anticipation, waiting and blurred lines.
As quickly as she swept in, she was gone. February starred back upon me. Where did you come from? It was all happening too fast.
Then one day I began to notice all these little notes from unknown sources sprinkled about, ‘tranquileoooooo’... found in the restaurant kitchen, ‘respite’ on a guest check, ‘hibernation’ on a piece of tape on the counter. I wasn’t quite sure where they were coming from, but a theme certainly was emerging like messages in a bottle that had divinely floated up on shore just for me.
Was this the go ahead, the signs pointing in one direction — that it’s time, turn your head to the future, winter is happening follow her lead? It seems silly in a way that I need an invitation...but transition from month to month, season to season, year to year takes both awareness and agreement. We feel differently, crave different foods, feel nurtured in different ways, dress differently, move at a different pace...have you noticed this in yourself?
As I write this, it is snowing softly, gently, quietly. Everything is covered in white wonder, temporarily muffled. I breathe in the respite and stillness deeply and restoratively. It is a day off. The café sits in silence. Yes, winter can feel full of contrast, exposing, harsh and leaving us feeling bare like the trees with nowhere to hide. Will I settle into these prompts that were left for me? Or would I rush on by like I never saw them...
You’ve heard me declare before how much I love winter. I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want to jump time and just ‘get through it’. Many try to escape her, abandon her for warmer places, returning after she has passed. My body says, No, breathe this all in. Before you know it, she will elude us and the frenetic pace of summer will be upon us. You need this. She is medicine.
Besides, I will miss these wide open gray skies, this space to soften, retreat, reserve.
Look up, watch the snow fall, hear the silence, listen to what it has to say. Maybe I wasn’t listening closely enough and winter left me notes to remind me. Maybe Janus was knocking me on the head. As January flows into February, winter ushers in more opportunity to appreciate, to connect, to be here now. What does that stir inside you? Welcome February, my new month full of the gift of precious new opportunity.
This beautiful poem by a café friend helps me exhale and do just that. Maybe it’s your sign.
—Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstock
As the Nights Grow Long [source]
By Lauren Taub Cohen
There’s a quiet velvety hush
this time of year
when nights speak
in deepening, darkening
shades of silence
and my body instinctively
leans in …
to listen and follow.
I lay upon my couch
and watch as the fire burns
its tethered flames
leaping and lunging
casting windy shadows
upon my gray-stained walls.
A sudden pop
stuns the silence
but doesn’t fracture it.
The silence is accentuated
even more because of it.
And as I breathe in
that sticky-sweet scent
of caramelizing wood,
my body begins to loosen
and I let go
into the feel of being lifted up
both soaring free
and still tucked in.