December in Montana gave me a chance to renew a brotherhood and walk some remarkable country. The snowfall was significant and taught me new ways of walking. Returning to Georgia in January, the rivers run high and the land saturated from frequent rains; its a different sort of cold here.
Water, encountered in so many forms, has dominated my Winter, seeping even into imagination––into dreamtime.
In stillness reflecting light, in motion reflecting the creatures of light, water seems warmly engaged in a grand affair. With whom I cannot say, but an intimate devotion carries it through every conceivable state of being, or perhaps better said, that for this intimacy water conceives every state of being. Tomorrow I’ll bring this up with our Yellow-Bellied Alchemist, if he can spare the time, busy as he is, tapping the giant athanors we’ve been calling trees.
Wild Persimmons bring our solar year to a sweet conclusion. A young fruitful tree on the point of a small island at Hunnicutt Lake, drew me to paddle over.
Under a grey December sky and before a crowd of slumbering trees, the fruit was glowing like amber-lit ornaments. Under the spell of a sentiment, I declared it my holiday tree.
From ancient American Lore comes a story of a destitute Orphan, who’d lost his wealth to the schemes of Rabbit. Wandering alone, the youth finds a Persimmon tree full of berries. He climbs to nourish himself, then makes a paste from the fruit to smear over his body. As the paste dries, it contracts his skin, giving the boy the appearance of an old man. Disguised in this way, the Orphan travels safely into unknown country.
An amphibic chorus has erupted from our slumbering wetland borders––Spring Peepers at night, and Chorus Frogs at day; their cold waterbeds a-tremble like mercury beneath the generous light of this high lunar cycle. Daffodils verge on early golden detonations, while our Yellow-bellied Sapsucker flashes between big trees, busy keeping springheads open for a share winter’s Elixir.
Barren as our forests may seem to the casual eye, there remains an uncanny and powerful sense of the unseen.
By day we scan our landscapes and cityscapes stepping along a horizontal axis somewhere between hope and fear. Step outside on a cold and clear winter night, and you can’t help but go vertical. Some of our elders spoke of these night lights as campfires, where beings of the stellar domain gather to tell their stories. If you if ever get close enough to listen in, that’s a story I’d love to hear.
From the ancient lore comes a tradition of stepping across doorway thresholds with a deliberate mind. The forefoot advances with unformed anticipation, while the aft briefly lingers with grateful regard. Grace resides in the pause between, a blessing from an unseen source.
Solstice is our planetary threshold, spacious enough for all to freely cross; the southern legions come north––come they must, and go we will. In the intimacies of this grand affair––pole to pole––secrets are sometimes revealed, although usually overlooked for their subtleties. If you were otherwise engaged to notice our recent global passage––sun to sun––take heedful comfort in knowing that a solstice resides in the center of every breath. The lore instructs the attentive further, with an injunction to keep the door-stoop and threshold clear––a practice which speaks for itself.
On the archer’s range we deal with innumerable thresholds, one of the more apparent occurs at anchor-point, where/when a well drawn arrow reaches the nexus of tension between effort and surrender, time’s threshold otherwise called the present moment. If the archer eludes the hazard of hesitation and the temptation of haste, the “still” arrow ripens into a shot that falls from a bow like an apple from a tree.
Leaning into Winter’s gate, night overcomes our day. The intimacies of light which we huddle around, can burn in three degrees, but in crossing the threshold we turn inside out and lift the Capricorn sun back home to our zenith. Before you go, dear traveler, turn North, and in the luminous night use winter eyes to glimpse the supernal light emanating from the dark gate of your empty mirror… Winter’s midnight sun is all yours.