‘If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’ An upbeat ‘take’ on Descent into the dark…

Having just returned from our annual visit to the misty, melancholy beauty of the Scottish Borders in late autumn, I am in reflective mood today. Despite the pattern of intermittent mildness and cold which has heralded the descent into winter over the last few years here, so that one never knows what to wear from one day to another, the autumn is losing its hold now. Light is fading, leaf fall nearing completion. In the vivid words of the poet Shelley ‘…the leaves dead Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing…’

Late leaf fall, by the River Tweed
Late leaf fall, by the River Tweed

photo: Anne Whitaker

The first of the early winter storms will soon be limbering up. How clearly I still recall childhood nights in Scotland’s Outer Isles, tucked up cosy in late November, whilst the wind did its best to tear the world apart outside my bedroom window. I loved that wildness – used to wonder what Power  lay behind it…

We need winter. We may not like it much, especially in the frequently wet, grey dreariness of the West of Scotland at this time of year! But we need it, and the darkness that goes with it. A long rest refreshes the earth, revitalises it; new life quietly germinates in the dark, bursting forth in the miraculous renewal of Spring.

We need the dark. Within the year’s natural cycle, the diurnal alternation of light and dark brings restful silence at night and the restorative power of sleep, without which all creatures including us would burn out and die before their time. We are in danger of forgetting this – at our peril – as an increasingly technology-driven culture sweeps the world, creating the illusion that we can live sustainably and healthily in defiance of the ancient rhythms set by the great cycles of nature.

So, this winter, let’s all try and be mindful of the deep wisdom of Nature which brings us this season of  Descent into the dark – the earth needs it, and so do we. I promise to try and remember my own advice, as I trudge miserably through frequent rain, wind, cold, and dark in the weeks and months ahead.

As that great poet Shelley optimistically observed in his Ode to the West WindIf Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’

Melrose Abbey: eerie autumn twilight
Melrose Abbey, Scottish Borders: eerie autumn twilight

photo: Anne Whitaker

400 words, and images, copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


10 thoughts on “‘If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’ An upbeat ‘take’ on Descent into the dark…

    1. Many thanks, Jamie. This morning on the way to my office, as I trudged ‘miserably through frequent rain, wind, cold’, there was a great opportunity to practice what I preached in this post! Anne x

  1. Lying fallow: rest, renewal, regeneration. It is so important.

    One of the strange consequences of living on the Gulf Coast is that, even well into November now, we’re still warm. It’s been this way for the 40 years I’ve lived here. Some Thanksgiving holidays have been spent sailing the bay — it’s hard to realize that the year is turning when nothing turns!

    We need a little cold and damp to go with our dark. Do you have some to spare?

  2. Of course! Especially if you bring some weather that allows me to turn off the air conditioning. (Remind me of all this in January, when there’s ice on the birdbath again!)

  3. We get on average about five months of winter in this part of the world so by the time March rolls around we are fed up with cold and snow and craving warmth. Hence many Canadians go south to Florida for the winter. On top of that we annually set our clocks back one hour on October 31st so darkness arrives early, between 4:30 – 5:00 pm. For a fire sign like me, I crave sunshine, and so I eagerly anticipate spring each year..Note: I try not to complain too much because we had a very hot, humid summer!

    1. Oh well, Bev, here in Glasgow, the wetness capital of the known world, winter seems to start in October and go on until June in some years…just as well I like living here despite the lousy weather. And I’m a fire sign too, like you. But all my fire is dipped in the 12th House – so Glasgow in the rain is probably a perfect match with my horoscope…thanks for dropping by all the way from Canada.

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