I have always loved January.
Maybe it's because I was born in this month.
Maybe it's because in January I remember to breathe again.
After all the exertion of December, it's nice to relax into the pause that is January.
In a normal year, the air is crisp, the wind blows and we often wake up to frost or a light dusting of snow...
We don't always get a lot of snow...sometimes just enough to ice the morning. And you have to be an early bird to see its magic before the mid-day sun burns it away.
I walk every day, even when it's bitter cold.
Walking every day joins me to the natural world in which I live, making me aware of which animals hibernate and which animals are out and about, sharing the chill.
There aren't many of us out and about so I can't help but feel some camaraderie towards them.
And I have grown to love the trees.
It's the trees that are ever-present.
I love to see their structures revealed, as they all stand straight and proud like a well-trained army.
Have you ever noticed that there aren't many crooked trees?
And if you do happen to find a tree that has tried to grow crookedly, it's not long before all the other trees whip the wayward soldier back in line and he's growing straight again.
Look for yourself. You'll see what I mean.
You may spy a crooked tendency down toward the tree's base but by the time you look up to the top of the tree, it's grown straight again. Right in line with all the others.
Which makes me think it's a lesson for parenting...
And it's not just the trees that are laid bare but the entire landscape.
Living on the ridge of a valley, I am surrounded by hills.
And it grounds me to see the boulders, cliffs and rocks uncovered along with the roots of trees.
They are the workhorses preventing erosion and holding it all together.
It amazes me to think that those rocks have been around since pre-Cambrian times...about 4 billion years ago.
Let's face it. Compared to 4 billion years, my life isn't even a flash in that pan. Ultimately, when all's said and done, I'm just the tiniest bit of fodder for trees and plants. Ergo I serve the earth...ergo, its rocks and trees.
See how my thoughts wander in January?
Are they really wandering or is the earth trying to tell me something?
I think it's the earth...sending me messages that help put my life in perspective.
That help to ground and guide me.
Without a doubt, January is beautiful to me with its shades of rock-gray and decaying-browns.
And I have learned to love a palette bereft of saturated color.
In January, I feel more clearly the import and contribution of the aging and dying earth. It helps me to be more gentle with my own aging body.
And all that contemplation of who I am and where I am going...
Which choices I am making and what remains undone...
Sets me on a renewed course...and I am helped along by the whispers of Mother Earth...and by the conversations I have held with the rocks and the trees..with those winter animals...that are sharing my life.
I'm not sure I believe in resolutions and a magic start date of January 1.
But I do believe in the power of January.
A quiet, contemplative respite from the frenetic world we have come to live in.
Tarnished silvers and grays and crystal and sparkle and taupes.
Cells decaying and being remade into new life and new ideas. Resting and conserving...and hiding...and reflecting...