We are almost to the solstice. Thank goodness. Its so dark and so cold. Everything is more complicated: the driving, the dressing, the getting people anywhere. It seems like it came on fast too. We jumped right in the deep end of winter.
I’m ready for the days to start stretching. For the daylight to hold out longer in the evenings so we can lay in our snow fort and watch the sky turn from blue to pink to indigo past supper. I’m ready for the blank calendar of January. The wide openness of it.
And yet. Winter is so good for remembering how to sit with discomfort. How to go slower. How to roast things in your oven. Its good for practicing sitting in the dark and focusing on flickering, sparkling things. And squinting to make them sparkle more. It’s good for thinking about how weird it is to be human. How much we need each other to survive. How good it is to go from brittle, to soft, to fluid. To sit and notice how brittle things hold the light.
A couple of weekends ago I drove down to Mayo clinic to visit my dear friend. Her dad was there for surgery. The whole drive down it was below zero temperatures. The day was clear and bright. Every tree beside the highway was bare and completely cased in ice: perfectly, beautifully fragile. Brilliant.
I played in the snow the other night for a few hours. Until my mittens got soaking wet, just like when I was a kid. We were building this snow fort and I could just imagine how it would come together. I was explaining the temperature of the snow to my kids, how certain weather makes better building materials. You need warmth and moisture to get good pack. Cold and dry for good, firm ice. We worked until our fingers and toes were numb. We worked until it had a good foundation and enough height to protect us from the wind.
Then we came inside and peeled layers off. Boiled water. Took turns sitting by the furnace vent, thawing, talking about what we will do next, depending on the weather.
This is what it is like to be human.