The paleness of the morning is the season's signature, and shed of holiday clutter, we, too, feel pale. Coming home yesterday afternoon from Angie and Jim's ebullient, warm Christmas brunch on the farm, that paleness had already begun to return to the sky from the blue of the morning, the day tiring early, I suppose. It made the huge red poinsettia, a marvelous gift from the faraway Baers, seem to stand out further in the front window.
Right now, even the sun behind Taylor and Gina's tall oak (all the trees hereabouts are tall...oaks, maples, pines, tulip poplar--the giant behind my house--and sweet gum) hides a pallid face. It will be a nice day, not quite chilly and mostly sun, I know from the weather forecast, but the squirrels and birds seem to have had other information and run around picking, pecking whatever they can find, preparing for something. I wonder what they know.
We are alone today, my uncle and I, the holidays having diverted our caregivers. He is still asleep after a whole night of breathing roughly, bouts of coughing, long periods of apnea. Exhausted from thirty-three hours of being awake and jumpy inside the strange plane of his mind, he has hardly moved under his tweed and wool covers since 7 last night. These are upside-down days of increasing dementia, so each day brings its own scenario. (In the photo above, dressed for Christmas, he tried to take apart his walker to figure out what it is.) Last night, I camped out near his room so that I could jump up before he tried to raise himself on his crumbling legs, but though I kept as awake as I could I heard nor saw any reason for me to rise, either.
I also wonder if winter enervates minds struggling with the mental and physical flips and slips aging brings. Why not? All nature goes underground, in its own ways, and we in cooler climates do the same. Huddled into sweaters, coats, hats, we take on the skin of another self, sort of molting in reverse. Born in winter, though in a tropical clime, I have never been much of a cold-weather person. And yet winter, as I look from the inside out, has its charms. That low-angle sun skirts the shrubs, topping them with white slight this time of day. If there is frost, or fog, its glitter enlivens the ordinarily dull landscape. The elianthus, not our favorite green, shows its prettiest white flower this season. The hellebore has bloomed early but right on time to make us smile. And the one flower, the anomaly of my yard, a winter-blooming azalea, braving dullness, stands down snow or sun.
I look to other pursuits...a gift of lovely pears I poached with ginger, and some scarves Alexander asked me to knit for his cousins, aunt and other grandmother he was about to visit on a holiday trip...he wants to do it himself, but he hasn't quite got the hang of knitting; perhaps because I'm right -handed and he's a lefty, it's hard for us to figure out together. White I knitted, though, he painted and made some pots from clay for them. He's never at loss, inside or out, for something to do.
A new year to you all of peace, kindness, calm...winter's dream we wait hopeful to come true.