I’ve come to celebrate winter rather than resist it, which has enlivened my love for the entire cycle of seasons. I love winter’s long nights and their extended opportunities for rest and imagination. Storms encourage inner slowness and home time. Embracing that gives me the rejuvenation of hibernation. With every winter, I choose a creative focus, so that I’ll emerge into spring with something new to give and share. Doing so has given me new energy for inner green growth, and for the bright heat of summer. It’s softly said goodbye to wistful wishes for different, when autumn chill arrives. It’s allowed me to fully embrace darkness as a positive element of seasonal and personal balance.
Winter in Oregon forests is an opening, too. With leaves gone from the oaks, ash and maple, light finds new pathways. Spaciousness returns to the land, missing in crowded green exuberance. I see more sky between branches, revealing gray beauty. Moisture finally informs everything, easing the crackling dryness. Breathing the chill fog enlivens me.
I’ve had to learn how to relate to fog, though, as much as to winter itself. When fog settles in and stays, it’s enfolding but restricting. It weaves mystery into the trees, yet its tapestry feels like a blindfold after awhile. It takes winter spaciousness away.
Fog is pure, when it first arrives. Then it takes on our impurities. Woodsmoke from chimneys: the most beautiful pollution in the world. Exhaust: not beautiful at all. Emotional toxins: bitter as exhaust. Down in the valley, fog takes on city anger, anguish, depression; the resentment of ones left to live on the streets. It affects the collective mood. It becomes easy to fall prey to the illusion that fog has no edges or endpoints.
It took me years to see fog’s limits. I was stunned to realize how quickly we can rise above it with a short climb. A small hill will often do. When the inversion layers settle in, fog here is merely a few hundred feet thick.
Above the fog, the vista opens. So does perspective. It’s beautiful refuge, to hear the voice of the valley below, yet be apart from it and hidden. It offers a unique form of privacy, as well. Privacy and perspective are hard to come by. I cherish them.
Fog also offers silent insight. When my fog is emotional rather than physical, I have to remain conscious that it also has edges. I have to persistently water my faith that there’s clarity close at hand, even when it’s invisible. I have to find an inner hill to scale, to rise above the toxins.
Gratitude and celebration form that small steady hill. Climbing them gives me perspective from above my fog. Even more essential, it allows me to act on that clarity; to use gratitude and celebration to find energy to build shelter for myself and others, regardless of how challenged I feel by current mood or circumstance.
I walk paths of celebration and gratitude best when they’re shared. We can steady each other, above the fog. We don’t even need to create our own pathways: so many others have climbed into gratitude and celebration before us. Their roads and trails will guide us to the next unique vista, waiting in nearby clarity. We will reach it. Fog, in the end, dissipates on its own.