Winter Light Lessons

I went outside today to chase light. I hadn’t meant to. I had only meant to give my dog a walk.

Right around this time of year I always start feeling it: the drag of cold bones and the weight of heavy limbs. I struggle to turn away from the business of things—things needing cooking, cleaning, caring, and replies. Lately, the things needing tending to seem to scramble and tangle, and I forget to cut tethers and wander into the light.

If I tilt my head a little, though, I can see it’s all an offering to practice letting go. In Winter, it’s embracing the low-slung sun while it’s out and then letting it go early. When I used to live in New York, my wife–then new girlfriend–used to laugh at me in the darker, colder months when I’d tug her hand so we could hang back on triangles of the day’s last light. Soft, lemon, angular rays would be resting on benches or walls or squares of sidewalk. There we would stand, face up to the sky, before tall buildings would usher those remaining beams away from the city below to make room for spreading shadows and inky blues. Eventually, I’d feel a tug back, and with the other hand I’d let go of the fading light, with hesitation. There’s always hesitation, I think, in letting go–it’s just the way it goes.

I went outside today and saw winter light. There was strange music when the warmer water of the pond rippled under and spilled over the thin mouth of ice along the edge. I only remembered afterwards that today is the winter solstice. Happy solstice, everyone; happy light chasing, and happy letting go.




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