Riding in the car, I watched the tree line along the highway. I looked at the stiff, tall trunks of pine and the gnarly bare tops of all the other trees. It was freezing, the first day I’d actually needed a heavier coat and scarf this year. The sky hung soft like cotton and gave a vague suggestion of snow. That’s when I started to notice a familiar feeling sliding over me, the long and comfortable blanket of melancholy that will sit with me until Spring.
I love this time of year.
I’m not saying that I love being sad – it’s not really sadness, anyway, just quiet, reflection, rest. Perhaps in another life I was a hibernating mammal, and this is when I look forward to slowing down and finding a cave to bed down in for a few months. What I love is the vulnerability of the landscape. Most trees have lost their leaves, the grasses have turned brown, the fruit and color of the natural world are gone. The same species that only weeks ago were practically shouting “Notice me!” have gone suddenly silent. All that’s visible now are the most basic elements, the bone structure of the world. No flair, no pomp, only the most basic parts of themselves show. If I thought a tree could feel exposed, I would admire its bravery. How can I be like that?
So the melancholy I feel each Winter is welcomed. I want to deconstruct myself and remember my bones. I want to release the parts that are showy and proud, and allow myself to be vulnerable – to love, to risk, to change. I want to know and love the parts of me that get covered up, so that they might be known by others. If I have been a bear in a cave, and now I am a woman in a car, perhaps one day I can be a tree in Winter.
*lovely photo courtesy of Bindu Wiles