September 22, 2005

The liminal seasons are all about waiting. At one pole of the year I want proof that my jealously-hoarded store of light minutes is increasing; at the other, I leave the potted ficus outside as long as I can, tempting fate, not wanting to consign it to the dry indoors until it’s absolutely necessary.

In the last few weeks before cold, everything pops. Goldenrod puts forth its profusion of blooms, corn stalks rattle, every wildflower and weed opens wide and lets its seeds fly. Our garage takes on the sweet pine smell of freshly split cordwood, piled and waiting for stacking.

Everything smart is stocking up for winter. The chipmunks pillage birdseed, the cat takes down field mice, we oven-roast plum tomatoes and pack them in oil. And when the jelly jars prove not-quite sterile they seal shut, foam around the edges, explode in a yeasty haze.

I want to see my folder of poems growing fatter, too, the comfort of crisp papers piling high. As if the advent of splintering ice means my creative impulse will hibernate, sleeping off the long dark night of winter, waiting for the first rivulets of melting spring to announce the right time to burst.

Written by Rachel Barenblat of
Velveteen Rabbi.

  1. September 23, 2005 at 3:18 pm

    Ah, you’re making me long to live in a place with four seasons!

  2. September 23, 2005 at 5:00 pm

    “As if the advent of splintering ice means my creative impulse will hibernate”
    Wow, I guess everyone’s different. I always look forward to winter as my most creative time. Maybe it’s because the mornings are so long – I’ve always done my best work before the sun gets very high above the horizon.

  3. September 23, 2005 at 8:11 pm

    The nesting/hoarding instinct feels very familiar to me, although I don’t preserve much food any more. But I do look forward to creative output during the winter, mostly because being cooped up feels like it focuses my attention and I’m less distracted by wanting to be outdoors. In winter there is also that quality of suspended animation and, sometimes, melancholy and restlessness that is usually fertile territory for me. (I honestly can’t imagine living in a place withOUT seasons!)

  4. September 25, 2005 at 6:59 pm

    Dale — I’ve come to love living in a place with four seasons. Though I sometimes wish spring’s warmth came a little sooner, I can’t imagine leaving this climate now. :-)

    Dave — Your comment fascinates me; when I think of winter days I think of how short they are. Though I’ve learned to enjoy hunkering down and lighting fires in wintertime, some part of me always has a hard time with the long dark. As it turns out, I seem to write a fair number of poems in deep midwinter — but a disproportionate number are about surviving the dark and the cold!

    Beth — Suspended animation, melancholy, restlessness: yes. Though in an odd way, winter is also a joyful time for me; our midwinter festival makes me happy, and I love the crisp cleanness of the mountains under snow. But I hear you about the distractions of the outdoors (that’s one of the reasons I give myself for why I sometimes don’t write as much in summer as I wish I would)…

  5. September 30, 2005 at 12:38 am

    Love the senses here. I am learning Florida’s seasons, which in many ways is like learning a new language.

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