“The beauty of this day doesn’t depend on its lasting forever.”
― Marty Rubin
My morning walks have become longer again, and are beginning to require a certain military precision in their organisation. Keys — tick. Woolly layers — tick. Toes strapped (experiment in postural correction) — tick. Fitness tracker, headphones, smartphone, new podcasts downloaded — yes, yes, yes and yes.
The title of this post is from the poem In the Mid-Midwinter, by Liz Lochhead. It seems particularly appropriate today as nature has already bestowed on Greenhithe an almost white-out mist, bright winter sunshine and now a sky of “dreich greyness” as the rain approaches.
In the Mid-Midwinter
‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s – from John Donne’s
‘A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day, being the Shortest Day’.
At midday on the year’s midnight
into my mind came
I saw the new moon late yestreen
wi the auld moon in her airms though, no,
there is no moon of course,
there’s nothing very much of anything to speak of
in the sky except a gey dreich greyness
rain-laden over Glasgow and today
there is the very least of even this for us to get
the light comes back
the light always comes back
and this begins tomorrow with however many minutes more of sun and serotonin.
there will be the winter moon for us to love the longest,
fat in the frosty sky among the sharpest stars,
and lines of old songs we can’t remember
why we know
or when first we heard them
will aye come back
once in a blue moon to us
bless us with their long-travelled light.
I woke this morning to find the world beyond my street has disappeared.
A mist has rolled across the harbour and made an island of this, slightly elevated, piece of land I call home. Beyond the neighbours’ roofs, a stand of macrocarpa trees fades softly into a flat, grey void.
The still air carries the sound of motorway traffic in the distance, but like shapes in the mist, the sound is muffled and indistinct — a mere hint of life beyond this temporary island.
For this time I am alone; the drivers, dog-walkers, joggers and cyclists either still at home or invisible to me.
For this time I can enjoy the quiet and solitude, the safety and peace, of my island. Soon it will be gone; evaporated by the climbing sun. Once again I will be part of a bigger, messier, noisier whole.
I can’t ponder this without thinking of John Donne, and THAT poem:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
I imagine all over the world right now, good people are reading and quoting this rebuke of isolationism, even as the sound of guns being cocked and drawbridges being pulled up echo through the mist.
For those of us who have a safe place — a home, a friendly neighbourhood, a peaceful country — it is tempting to build a fence, patrol the boundaries, create rules for entry. It is tempting to hold on to what we have and create a mist to obscure that which is beyond.
It is tempting to zoom in and focus on what is near. But however blurred by our lens, there is always a background in shot which must share our attention too.
Now this was a surprise! I’ve always thought of praying mantises (manti?) as kind of cute. Until I saw this one enjoying lunch.
After witnessing a praying mantis snacking on the last (yes last) Monarch caterpillar the other day, I’ve taken to patrolling the milkweed plants and surrounds to protect the remaining chrysalis and new butterflies from these cute, but lethal beasties.