Saturday, December 15, 2007

Winter Shadows

"Face of the skies
over our wonder.

truant of heaven
draw us under.

Silver, circular corpse
your decease
infects us with unendurable ease,

touching nerve-terminals
to thermal icicles

Coercive as coma, frail as bloom
innuendoes of your inverse dawn
suffuse the self;
our every corpuscle become an elf."

Mina Loy, "Moreover the Moon"

It’s winter in the back yard – low sun, slanting almost sideways, making early afternoon look like late summer twilight. The moon is waxing, and the late sun illuminates the same old stuff, but takes a different angle, providing backlight over here, and spotlight over there. The new lighting makes familiar summer scenes look unfamiliar. Deeper shadows contrast with stark brightness, camouflaging flower pots into hiding places where phantoms lurk. The light flattens colors, making the scene resemble a dime-store paint-by-number picture - with too few colors and no gradual shading.

The unforeseen shadows and flattened colors make my afternoon stroll through the yard feel like a conversation between estranged friends, punctuated by awkward silences and sudden interruptions. The rhythm is gone, the sentences are incomplete. The summer smells are gone too – replaced by a chill and carried on strange humidity, that seems to almost clog the air, so unfamiliar had it become after a long hot dry season. The part of my brain that houses hard-wired instincts and coded messages seems to be whispering: curl up and hibernate, keep warm and cozy deep inside your cave, behind the bars of icicles. Let the moon wax and wane a few more cycles.

It is only by detaching from the garden for a while that gardeners will be able to enjoy the promised rebirth of spring, and the joy of re-discovering forgotten smells and visions. Meanwhile, coercive as a coma, seductive as sleep before a fire, the abandoned winter garden neither invites nor promises. It waits.

1 comment:

kate said...

I suppose that is the difference between winter in San Diego and winter in Saskatchewan. When the garden is frozen and covered with snow, it doesn't feel as if it is waiting. It feels as if it's gone.

It is interesting to read about how winter is distinguished from summer.