There is a day each winter when the sky shifts and a hint of new life returns, if not to the land, then at least to the brain. We celebrate the solstice and the equinox, but this day in mid-February goes unnamed and unnoted, except, as far as I can tell, by me.
So writes Kimberley Noble today, at February’s apex. For her, spring cascades from today (or hereabouts) and the gravity of the day, over the years, has had a profound effect on the trajectory of Ms. Noble’s life. Biased by her own experience, perhaps – and not wrongly – she suggests the ides of February it is a seasonal send-off that more of us would do well to notice.
I notice. I noticed.
I have met many a Canadian who shares with me a certain lowness that strikes at the high point of the summer, on the solstice. For Northerners that longest day is a both birthright and a celebration earned through the trying days of winter. But it is also the first day on an inexorable slide towards darkness, and so carries with it amidst the revelry a moment of sadness. Conversely, in the depth of that cold night, on or about December 21st, when the sun’s wealth is at its most scarce, an ecliptic sliver of light pokes through the consciousness – an augury of happiness and the lengthening rays in weeks and months to come.
Nonetheless, though reason can find a gift in the darkness of the winter solstice, human emotion is guided more by what it sees clearly in the present. And so it is some time before we truly believe that winter might soon be coming to an end.
That time was yesterday.
Through my west-facing windows, the summer’s evening sun washes through my house, the interior evenings painted on the walls in gold and red. Migratory colours absent through the winter grey. Colours that last night, while sitting at my kitchen counter-top facing away, alighted briefly on my cheek. Their first evening’s return to their Northern home.
Wishing to mark the homecoming I grabbed my camera and ran for the backyard, training my lens on the branches of my favourite tree, my dogwood, as though only now in the vernal light was it possible that its buds would come out of hibernation. Focused once, and pressed the shutter. Faced west, caught the sun in my face for a moment, reframed but 27 seconds later and…the light had passed.
The briefest visit, but the clearest evidence:
…the glimmer of a lighter sky that [is] the most memorable part of the season in which the top of the planet spins away from the sun and we are left to find our own path through the darkness, until we are spun back into the light once again.
Well put, Ms. Noble. And noted by at least one other than yourself.
* R.W. Emerson