Monday, 20 June 2016


Autumn was so mild this year (as I spoke of here) that it almost seemed like winter would never come. And this worried me greatly, as it is alarmingly clear that the balance of the weather and the seasons is being shifted ever more by climate change (how long will it be before the world we know is so changed it is unrecognisable?). Yet then, with a sudden cold rush at the end of May, the season of frost and mist was upon us, and the winter woolies were immediately required to warm numb fingers and toes.

Winter is a time for going inwards, when the daylight hours are short (and on a cloudy, grey day, barely even there), and the dark, inside hours are long and encompassing. It is for innerness—both deep personal reflection, and ‘inside pursuits’: for sitting with a hot cup of herbal tea and reading a good book—or dreaming strange and beautiful dreams; for knitting and the making of things—soup, baked goodies, art, and perhaps new life resolutions to be pursued as the year begins its upward swing once more. 

For me it is also a time for writing. It is when I start to feel that stories are waiting in the cold ground, like seeds, or bulbs, waiting for me to find them, to water and feed them, to help them to grow and live and move into the light—since that is what happened last winter.

In May last year I wrote of a woman called May, a mysterious character in a shadowy story I am yet to fully visualise. In June I wrote of love lost, an overcast sky, rain falling and making ripples that pulsed outwards over the surface of a lily-pond. In July I wrote of ‘future nuns’ who dream a wounded world back to health and wholeness. And in August I was engrossed, almost manically, in writing a novella inspired by the Roman myth of the faun Vertumnus and the nymph Pomona, patroness of apple orchards.

It was an abundant time which extended throughout spring and right up to the end of the year. 

And then it ended—for reasons which I may explore here at another time—and I was left in my own season of fallowness, story-less, dwelling with the frustration of a lack of energy and a general sense of unproductiveness. (Though this blog began its life in that seemingly empty time, and Vulture came to me, so I must remind myself that I have been productive, just in other ways.)

Still, over the past month I have managed to write a small, wild tale, about a man and a bird (I leave it up to your imagination whether I mean a woman or a winged one), and perhaps this spells the beginning of another season of stories. Of course, I know that I need to sit down and do the work, for in order to write something I must write it … Yes, I am aware that that sounds completely self-evident. Yet so often I procrastinate, waste time (over)thinking and planning, and not actually doing what clearly needs to be done: the writing itself. (And I don’t think I am the only writer guilty of that.)

I hope, therefore, that this wintertime of bare trees and icy winds and frosty sunshine, will give me what I need—energy, motivation, inspiration—to find stories again, to do the important work of creating my own imaginative realms, making them alive and real. At the very least I hope to learn some lessons, grow my own self a little, and live with more awareness of and love for this changing world. 

All life begins in the dark. What will emerge into the light?

Solstice greetings to all of my readers, whether you are marking the dark southern trough of the year, or the bright northern peak.

And if you particularly wish to immerse yourself in the kind of intense arctic cold and darkness that most of us can only imagine, here are some very wintery reading recommendations:

Cecilia Ekbäck’s Wolf Winter (2015) – set in early 18th century Swedish Lapland
Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites (2013) – set in 19th century Iceland
Sarah Moss’s Cold Earth (2009) – about an archaeological dig in Greenland 

I leave you with an apt little song to mark this hinge-day.


  1. Just hopped over from Sarah's blog... I love the photo up through the branches! Nice to 'meet' you :)

    1. Hello Claire. Thank you for stopping by. Yes, this online world makes 'meeting' a strange business at times, but it does enable connections that may not have occurred otherwise, and for that I am grateful. Thank you for your comment. I love receiving them. ;-)


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