So the year’s first child leaves us, her last sun pouring down its golden rays in benediction on all our bright dreams.
Tomorrow the next one will come toddling in, brand new, its arms gift-laden.
Their visits are so brief and fleeting. And each gives us its all–seconds, minutes, hours, days–to do with as we please, to make whatever choices we will, as they unfold their weather and usher along the seasons.
Oh, January! How we heralded your birth! You, the bringer of fresh hopes and renewed aspirations.
Forgive us for how quickly we forget them, and know that your life force will stir them again and again as your siblings come with new chances.
For all the beauty and dreams you brought us, our thanks. Farewell, beautiful January. Farewell.
The earth dreams her winter dreams, full of possibilities: Corn, wheat, earthworms, clover, grazing cows and butterflies.
So deep is her sleep that she appears lifeless, her spacious curves lying there, unmoving, under the broad sky. But beneath the thin blankets of last year’s crops and grasses, she calls the tomorrows into form.
Birds’ nests dance inside her, and baby rabbits in their burrows. She dreams the ants coming forth and the dandelions, the tadpoles, the snakes and the fishes.
And through it all, the song of the Great Yes weaves in melodious ribbons and blesses her, and she sighs at the sweetness of it all and sleeps.
She had, she wanted us to know, heard the wishes of our hearts.
She heard the way we yearned for the beauty of the crystalline fairylands that the frost painted on our windows. She caught our desire to be lost in the dazzle of new fallen snow.
She smiled in tenderness at our wonder over the pastel puffs of clouds that danced on the sunset sky, and at the colors of the rainbow that she had stretched across the fields.
Soon, she would be leaving. But she could not go without giving us one final gift.
And so, with one sudden wave of her wand, just as the sun was setting, January combined all those elements that had brought us such joy into one, quick, wondrous gift. And it transformed the land and made our hearts sing.
Morning had to push hard against the leaden sky to make her entrance. And even then, she came draped in shrouds of gray like some weary ghost of herself.
We ate heaps of scrambled eggs and spread our toast with red jam, not so much for the flavor, but because we were starving for color. The late night TV had promised snow. Even that would be a break in the monotony. But none came.
And noon was no cheerier than morning as it dragged its long hours across the threshold. We resigned ourselves to the dreariness and went about our tasks with all the industry that we could muster.
Outside, as if it was rushing our subliminal prayers to the gods, a wind began to sweep through the trees. And as if in answer, the clouds broke into puffs and the day spread its last light, bright and golden over the final hours of the day. And we gathered great armfuls of thanks and hurled them into the cold air, laughing, and grateful, and glad.
“Ice,” said the voice in my head as I glanced at the puddle. “Tea,” it said, noticing how the sticks intersected. I laughed out loud.
The labels go on and on and on, from the moment we learn the words. I suppose it keeps us anchored in the world somehow.
Then the words trigger memories and dreams. So although it is late January and I am standing in freezing rain, in my mind I am gazing at fields of tall, green corn on a hot, windless day in mid-July, and it is not rain but perspiration running down my cheeks, and I hear the tinkle of ice cubes in a tall glass of tea and smell lemon.
All the sounds are liquid and deafening. The pouring rain beats on the tree bark, on the melting leaves. It plunks into the pools gathered in the hollows of the ground, the round ripples leaping in tiny waves.
I splash through it to the bank of the green, swollen creek and its roar rises to meet the falling rain. Even the drenched air cannot mute it, though it wraps itself, cloud-like, around every twig and fills all the spaces.
The light is like ground pearls, milky and luminescent. It laughs as it rides the rushing waters, as it slides down the naked braches and over the leathery surface of the leaves.
In town, people hurried along beneath black umbrellas, their shoulders hunched, their eyes cast down to the drab sidewalks, blind to the rivers of light that ran down the gutters.
But here, the colors glow, and the world is raining beauty.
What if you had a hundred arms that you could lift up to the heavens? What if you lived to be two hundred years old and stood in one place as the world changed around you?
What if birds perched on your wrists and sang in the morning? Or built homes on your shoulders and raised their young there?
Would you be afraid of tomorrow?
Would you dwell on your yesterdays?
Or would you long only to stretch higher and farther and to welcome the wind? And to revel in the rain and the white, sparkling snow? And to dance beneath the sunlight and the bright moon and twinkling stars, and to be so very glad just to be?
Except in rare moments, we, who count our lifespans in mere decades, tend to forget that our vision is short-sighted and focused narrowly on the inconsequential, quickly fading moments of our days.
Tossed by the tides of our concepts and emotions, we get caught up by the he-said, she-said, and the us and them dramas and lose sight of that which is, beyond our stories. No wonder we despair.
But we are luckier than we remember. The dream that we inhabit is larger than our own, and truer. And now and then it signals us. It paints the world with a certain slant of light, or stretches a rainbow across our skies. And something in our souls responds, leaping with joy.
Giggle, wiggle, wink, jig. Holler, whistle, toot.
It’s not the how that matters, it’s the getting in the game.
It’s finding a little minute for a tickle now and then, for tapping and clapping and slip-sliding away.
The power of perspective is hidden (whoot-whoot!) in play.
Bam! You’re a kid again with a wide open mind, where all the magic is free to roll in (giggling) and grab you (tickling) and where every circumstance is your rabbit-in-a-hat ally just waiting for a wave of your wand.
Morning comes pouring out buckets of light. It splashes on the snow, turning it to diamonds.
You can see the hoofprints where the deer were dancing in the dawn. The trees are still laughing at the sight of them.
The light rolls down the hill, and morning keeps it coming. It slides down the tree trunks and bounces up into the sky.
The air is filled with it and you feel it shimmering into your lungs when you inhale. It turns to clouds when you breathe out. And it’s inside you now, riding your blood, slipping inside your very cells.
And you breathe some more. And morning keeps turning it up, brighter now and brighter.