The seasons turn, a new year arrives.
My Christmas gift was a traveller’s journal which is why my story begins here. I carried it around in my backpack and to and fro between my desk and bedside table for weeks before beginning to use it. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.
We were living solely on the last of our savings at the time, because of the pandemic stopping our work. Due to this our Christmas tree was created from fallen branches gathered from the local woodland. The scent of pine still filled the room, just as before, except this time there was also a meaningful, family story linked to our little “tree”. After New Year’s we used the foraged twigs to create a bug hotel in the nature corner of our garden.
This year we all want to do the same again, only more so. I am already looking out for where the holly grows in the little woodland so that we can decorate the door frames and bookshelves, and create a homemade wreath for the front door.
Adjusting our sleep/wake times meant that each morning we got to greet the dawn. I started to measure time in the early hours by watching the bright golden winter sunrise creep across the frosted glass of the window. Later, I would stop wearing a watch around the house altogether.
The birches kept their final leaves into late December, creating a rare beautiful effect during the golden hour at dusk each day. I can only see a small part of this tree from my desk window, so as soon as the sun dips low enough to shine through the branches, I know to take a walk towards the southern footpaths for the full view.
This moment at dusk, where I pause work and take a quick walk, starts to herald teatime because when I get back from the cold, the kettle goes on and soup is warmed on the hob. I am already re-aligning my days to the nature around me, although I am not consciously aware of it just yet.
By early January the fields become almost impassable, the little woodland equally so. As soon as the temperature drops and the sun clouds over, our boots can go three foot or more into the mud in places. It will be April before the fields are fully walkable again. As long as we keep close to the blackberry hedgerow in the top field, we can at least still enjoy the wide winter skies.
Here is my favourite photograph from Christmas and New Year 2020: When you are only two and a plastic emerald ring falls out of a cracker and you cannot believe that such a priceless token can be yours.
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