In Winter, We Rest



In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
             where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
    shoves and pushes
         among the branches.
             Like any of us
he wants to go to sleep,
    but he’s restless—
         he has an idea,
             and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
    as long as he stays awake.

But his big, round music, after all,
      is too breathy to last.

Read this meaningful poem by Mary Oliver in its entirety here:

If you’ve read my blog for long or follow any of my social media accounts you know that herons are a very special presence in my life. I’m lucky to live close to a small body of water that always has a heron, or two, around. And although the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) definitely does not have a white eye–they are yellow or gold–I thought of this Mary Oliver poem when I came across this photo I took a few years ago. 

The poem also resonated with me because yesterday was the Winter Solstice: the first day of winter and the return of the light. The days grow longer and the nights grow shorter. Like Oliver’s bird, I grow ever more restless. I have an idea–ideas–unfolding from under my wings. Also like the white-eyed bird, I want to go to sleep. This season has always been a time of marinating dreams for me. Stewing. Conjuring. Imagining. For moving deep beneath surface life, just like the insects and worms and larvae that snuggle up against dormant (not dead!) plant roots deep within my garden’s soil. But like the roots, the worms, and the white-eyed bird, I need to rest. “So, it’s over, ” Oliver goes on. “He’s done all he can.” Yes, I reply. I have. 

I’m going to hibernate for a while. And although many of us feel we’ve already been hibernating for so long, isolation/distancing is not the same as hibernation. Hibernation comes from the Latin word hibernare: to winter, pass the winter, occupy winter quarters. And I fully intend to pass the winter in my own way of dreaming, marinating, and conjuring even while I enter a deep restful state. There will be time for growth when the soil warms in the next season.

I just finished reading ‘Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times’ by Katherine May. It was a captivating book, part memoir and part meditation on culture, society, the natural world, and human nature. Now is the perfect time to read May’s book. Just ask Bootsie.

Order from your favorite Indy bookstore or here’s the link to mine: Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh NC.

That’s it for now! Happy, Merry, Joyous Absolutely Everything. See you next year…

One last thing. Did you see the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter? I walked down to the park where I could see above the tree line. I didn’t get National Geographic quality photos, but I did manage to capture this once-in-a-lifetime event with my Canon PAS. And a couple of La Luna.



32 thoughts on “In Winter, We Rest

  1. Well captured, Cheryl. My hubby tried, but it was too overcast. These are excellent photos. And yes, hibernation has been extended, but we will emerge with more distilled and distinct wishes and dreams because of it. That is a reassurance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That looks like a really good book recommendation (although I can’t take my eyes off Bootsie 😊 ) That desire to hibernate and dream … beautifully said, Cheryl. Right there with you. Wishing you a peaceful and inspiring New Year. I’ll meet you in the ether for a celebratory toast! Jeanne

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That would be wonderful. Our big annual book sale is normally held in April. No telling what will be happening then with the pandemic and safety, but one never knows. You are always welcome to come up this way and visit. Being by the Delaware, there are so many charming little places to stay in the area – you would love it. Stay well and I’ll meet you for that toast! 🥂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. That is my error of omission, Luanne. Oliver doesn’t name the bird as a heron. In fact, I don’t think she identifies the bird in the poem at all. It was my own thoughts about winter and the birds around my place that made me think of that poem. But, I’m often thinking of her multitudes of poems:) Hope you are feeling better and better! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautifully written Cheryl. Those ideas are part of the dreaming too, and they can wait until they’ve rested within your imagination for a while, ready to germinate in the spring. Wishing you the very best for the year to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bootsie looks quite comfortable! Great heron shot. I hadn’t seen a heron at the park where I walk for quite a while, but then saw one on the morning of the solstice. It seemed a special gift.
    That’s wonderful that you got to see the conjunction. It was cloudy and rainy here.
    Happy holiday to you and yours!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Those are great pictures. I saw one star but maybe my timing was off. I noticed that my usual Autumn energies have slowed since Winter poked in. Sleep and good rest has crept in. And much needed. Love the poem. Rest up and happy holidays.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Cheryl, Thank you for this email—the poem, the book suggestion and especially your thoughtful prose. Much to absorb and good reminders about hibernating a bit longer. Lovely pictures of last nights great configuration. We are at the NC coast and had a splendid view though you have captured well with your camera.

    Happy Solstice and merry Christmas. Love, Sarah

    What if our religion was each other…If practice was our life…If prayer our words…What if the temple was the earth…What if meditation was our relationship…If the teacher was life…If love was the center of our being

    Liked by 1 person

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