24/12/2018 It seems only right that, having completed a year of weekly seasonal treasures, I should reflect on the reasons I began.
Rereading the introduction I wrote a year ago, I was surprised. I had almost forgotten that I planned to choose one subject for each week of winter only, and I can barely recognise the emotions I was experiencing then, so different do I feel now.
I started the project as a kind of therapy for winter, a way to help me live more in the moment and appreciate what was around me even when I was struggling, whether due to cold and dark, dealing with difficult circumstances or events, or my own inexplicable moods. I found the therapy so effective and enjoyable that I didn’t want to stop. No matter what time of year it is, there are always times when we are so bound up with our busy-ness or daily problems that we can fail to notice things in front of us; forget to be grateful for simple gifts. I found that forcing myself to stop to think and write about them was so beneficial to my mental health, regardless of how low or upbeat I was feeling, that the original purpose of the task was overtaken by a multitude of positive effects. In this way it reminds me of my church tour which I began in April last year, for just three or four vague reasons. The outcomes so far, perhaps ten times that quantity, have been beyond anything I could have imagined.
As intended, most of the subjects I have chosen have been season-specific: natural phenomena, nature and wildlife. But I have also sometimes found myself writing about experiences instead. Experiences and feelings that occurred in that season, and that I found occupying my thoughts at that particular time, but were not strictly seasonal. But they still felt relevant to the season in one way or another.
Last winter the project helped me when I needed it most, and this year I have felt no dread of the autumn and winter months. I am grateful, however this has come about, and I hope it continues. I am having no difficulties enjoying the darker, colder seasons, and have found a meaningful solution to the Christmas period, which makes me feel more peaceful: to celebrate both Christmas and New Year on the winter solstice. This makes far more sense to me: I am rejoicing genuinely, from the sense that there is something earth-bound to celebrate, rather than simply because the human world tells me I should. It is undoubtedly the beginning of a new year as far as the relationship between sun and earth is concerned, and it is well known that the date of Christmas has been taken from those far more ancient winter solstice celebrations. The parallels in symbolism also seem too great to be coincidental.
I have by no means exhausted the supply of seasonal gifts that I wanted to write about. I think I will continue with them, perhaps less frequently, through the next year, if only to include those that really ought not to be left out. Whether I will find I need to continue the habit more regularly, or replace it with another similar one, remains to be seen. But for now I am content with the my first sighting of hazel catkins in my neighbour’s driveway, the unexpected cooing of wood pigeons, the luminous willow canopy and the prospect of blue eggs and blackbird song early in the new year…