For the past two weeks, my daughter has been working on a sculpture inspired by Winter.
She started with dead tree branches, and a sketchbook full of assocations, and ended up with something rather spidery and menacing. Here, it looks rather like a large and upright praying mantis.
I'm not phobic about creepy, crawly things, but I do have an uncomfortable relationship with January.
This year it seems to be particularly bad, although -- as one of my friends tactfully told me -- "you are never very good in January.
We had an excessively sociable December, and maybe part of what I'm experiencing is a natural burn-out.
Winter is the time for renewal, as we all know, but I do hate the diminishment of my natural energies and enthusiasm. I've had no energy for resolutions this year; and no desire for anything other than sleeping, reading and -- while the fleeting pleasure lasted -- watching episodes of Downton Abbey. It's not that I'm lying prone on the sofa, and in fact I've had some hurry-scurry days, but still I feel like I'm just going through the motions . . . waiting, somehow, for things to begin.
It doesn't help that dusk seems to come at 3 pm, and the sky is a mass of smothering weeping cloud. I do love England, my adopted country, but my native Texan self does suffer at this time of year.
Still, getting to the point of being able to write about it, is probably a sign that I'm beginning to emerge from the worst of my annual winter funk. Here is a poem, which I dedicate to my fellow SAD sufferers, by the wonderful Linda Pastan.
Is is seasonal affective disorder
I suffer from? This special lamp
I bought doesn't help at all,
but I do light up whenever
the sun itself appears. you say
the blossoms are most themselves
on a cloudy day, as if contrast
is what flowers are about.
But I feel as swollen with useless tears
as the clouds must be with rain,
projecting their shadows
over fields that are simply waiting
to blaze back to green.
The world is always going to pieces,
and we're all growing rapidly
towards our deaths, even the children.
But just one hit of sun,
one almost lethal shot
of pure, yellow light
(like the hand of some saint
I don't even believe in
touching my face)
and I'll forget the whole broken world,
forget the impermanence of beauty.
I'll simply catch on fire from
a single spoke of sun.
With a single exception, everyone in my family has a January birthday. When I am in a wintery mood, (see the beginning of the second stanza), that seems like an exceptionally grim thing. Please forgive me; I'm having a morbid moment. The forecast is nothing but rain, rain, rain, but hopefully I will be myself again soon.
January: I can't wait to see the back of you.