Posts Tagged ‘darkness’

Just in case you hadn’t noticed… Winter is here. It has settled into the landscape, sunk its claws into the earth and won’t be leaving any time soon.  Its presence means more clothing, more work shoveling and scraping off the vehicle, higher home heating costs and more dangerous driving conditions.

By this first day of winter, wild animals have either already migrated south or found a place in which to live out the worst of winter’s fury.  Hopefully, the geese above didn’t encounter any stormy weather in their flight south on Saturday.

Yesterday, Nova Scotia was beset by a winter storm that left many of us with the work of digging ourselves out this morning.  Many folks feel that our Nova Scotia winters are not as bad as they used to be, and that nowadays, plans are too quickly cancelled due to inclement weather.  I’m sure our perspective on the situation is likely affected by the length of our driveway and the cost of the home energy bill.

Though it’s often said that every cloud has a silver lining, sometimes golden linings are also waiting to be discovered in the harshest of situations.  Winter is not without its charm, especially during the Christmas season.  In Canada, the presence of snow at this time of year is expected, like icing on a birthday cake.  I see it as a visual reminder to slow down a bit during these dark days and to take extra care to stay warm and cozy. 

It’s no doubt the cold and darkness at this time of year that originally inspired folks in Denmark to practice hygge,  the art of creating coziness and warmth through the use of placement, lighting, and special foods and drinks enjoyed with loved ones.

One kind word can warm three winter months.
~ Japanese proverb

It wouldn’t hurt for us to all be kinder  to ourselves and one another at this time of year, if only to ease the effect of the cold.

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We’re entering the darkest week of the year in Nova Scotia, when each day is less than nine hours in length.  This morning, the sun rose at 7:45, almost two hours after I set out for a walk along the Salt Marsh Trail. 

I often walk in the dark with the intention of seeing the sun rise while out in the middle of nature.  If you’ve never risen early and braved the elements outside in the pre-dawn light, you’re missing a wonderful experience.  It’s one that engages all the senses. 

Too often, we really only on our eyesight.  We only trust what we can see directly in front of us, and fail to engage our other senses when confronted with the unknown.

Walks in the darkness make us perk our ears more.  The scent of trees in the mist and the sounds of waking birds and rushing tide waters all add to our perception of place and time. 

Even on moonless nights, white objects stand out in the darkness.  I wondered what creature attacked this seagull when I came across these feathers on my walk yesterday morning.  A coyote?  Not knowing what’s lurking in the darkness is part of life’s adventure.  The challenge of facing our fears, whether real or imagined, shouldn’t prevent us from moving forward along the trail.

On this morning’s walk, the light drizzle soon changed to pouring rain.  The droplets were caught by the flash of the camera and capture a bit of the magic that is felt at this special time of day when most are still asleep and warm in their beds. 

The quotation below is from Canadian portrait photographer, Yousuf Karsh. Although digital photographs no longer require darkness for their development phase, his words still hold true.

Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.
~ Yousuf Karsh

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porcupineDo you ever get the feeling you’re being watched?  If you’re in the woods, you probably are.  The wild things are there and just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they don’t see you. 

It’s not so bad in the daytime, but once darkness falls, the idea that there are faces watching you from behind the leaves and branches can make you feel uneasy.  My grandmother used to say that there was nothing in the dark that wasn’t there when there was light.  It’s true.  Once the sun goes down, good is still good and evil is still evil. 

What does change is opportunity for those that prefer to work under cover of darkness.  I’d feel less at ease walking some city streets at night than the deep woods.  Many animals are nocturnal and just happen to go about their regular business when the rest of the world is sleeping.   Any encounter with them is likely accidental, but they do have their territories, just as we have ours.

At any time of day, to tread into the wilderness when all is quiet makes one feel at peace and at one with the world in a way that few experiences can duplicate.  I don’t worry about the things that watch me through the leaves.  They’re more afraid of me than I am of them.  Afraid that I’ll take my sunflower seeds back…

squirrel eating sunflower seeds

I am treading deeper and deeper into leaves and silence. I see more faces watching, non-human faces. Ironically, I who profess no religion find the whole of my life a religious pilgrimage.
~  Loren Eiseley

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