The deep cold has let up, yet I remain largely house bound. Last Friday I had outpatient surgery. As a person who had Bulbar Polio I find it takes me several days to recover from general anesthesia. I am groggy and sleepy, and appear to be settling deeply into an interior life. I am, I imagine, very much like the bears.
This dive into the deeply interior is familiar. When I had polio I was housebound (post hospital) for many months, including that first winter. Even now, there is a part of me who wishes to remain indoors in the cold times. As I age, this desire seems to strengthen. Each autumn I look forward to the coming of the cold, the changing, jewel-like play of light, and the gathering snow, ice, and darkness. At the same time, I know I will suffer the late effects of Polio, the impossibly cold limbs and jagged fatigue, and the gnawing depression.
Of course I am not alone in facing the challenge of winter. The other late afternoon I was puttering in the sun-room when I looked up and saw a large cat rapidly climbing the small hill behind our home. No, it was not a cat, but rather a small, striking young fox! It made the crest of the hill through snow and ice and was gone.
This has been a cold winter and we have added a second bird feeder. On bitter days the birds literally cover the smaller feed, devouring seed, and forcing us to refill. Ice has thickened in the bays and coves, although after a few days of thaw it is most likely untrustworthy; we have yet to hear of trucks going through the ice.
Since my surgery I have settled in, wrapped in an electric blanket, before the wood stove. I sit and doze, drifting in and out of daily consciousness. At the moment I am writing in the office, looking out towards the lake and mountains. The day is warm, being well above freezing yet dark; streaks of Mediterranean blue alternate with cirrus clouds, providing precious little light.
I am aware of a profound ambivalence toward the cold; I dread it even as I long for its arrival. Winters in California were simply too easy and predictable, so many years ago I moved back north and east. Now, here in Vermont, winters are becoming progressively milder as if in response to my increasing inability to manage the cold. However, instead of a boon I experience the shifting climate as a threat; warming tears at the very fabric of our local ecosystems as well as the mythic underpinnings of my experience.
Cold is, I think, very much at the center of the Dreaming of this place. I know the Dreaming is resilient, yet I am human and aging and hold things as they have been close to my heart. The sadness I feel is for many beings, for Pachamama, and for me. I also know that at some point, in days or millennia, the cold will return.