Yesterday, we went from this and this, which are beautiful in their own right, although not helpful for getting horses outside, to this and this. We were supposed to get 1 to 2" of snow, and ended up with almost a foot - it was one of those magical snows - it looked just like the inside of one of those snow balls you shake up - large flakes that drifted silently and heavily down all day. It is a soft snow, easy to wade through with your boots - it just moves aside effortlessly.
In our part of the world, this is the time when the earth seems to be holding its breath, sleeping its winter sleep and waiting for spring. I think this time is what gives the spring and summer when things are growing and flowering their especial poignancy, since we know it will come to an end again and it will be winter. But I value the special qualities of this season - I love the quiet of an almost windless, snowy day, where the flakes drift down, and pile up, and eddy gently into corners.
This is the dark time of year, when night and stars seem more present than sun and day. It is a time for silence, thought and contemplation. Looking on what has been done, what is to come, while not forgetting here, now - which is where I more and more think my attention really should be. The dark time of year is one of incubation, of gestation and hidden growth and renewal. Due to our barn situation, little riding takes place this time of year - the horses also are resting and waiting. It's this time of year that I recollect, in terms of recalling to mind and also in terms of gathering myself in preparation for time to come. With the horses, it's a time of tending and caring, wrapped up in our barn with its warm lights shining out onto the snow. This time of year reminds me that what I really care about with my horses is our connection, our relationship, and that this remains whether any riding or formal work goes on or not, and the work of our relationship goes on every day. Besides, just listening to horses chew hay is one of my favorite things, and I get to do a lot of that this time of year!
I've always liked the week between Christmas and New Year's. When I worked in an office, I never took vacation during this week - very few people were working, there were almost no meetings or business trips, and it was possible to get much done, undisturbed. I usually don't make New Year's resolutions, but this week is a time when I like to think about where I am and where I might be going, either by my own choice or not. I plan, I organize, I read, I think. It's a time of year to pause, consider and take a deep breath.
Enjoy the dark nights and short days, and the cold, and remember that in the darkness is often the beginnings of light!