Last night I happened to glance out of a window and caught a glimpse of a little chipmunk sitting alone on a stone wall in the garden. She honestly seemed to be taking a moment to herself to enjoy the lavish sunset that was visible between the trees.
It’s a busy time for the chipmunk community. I keep glimpsing our locals scurrying along through the window, their officious attitude undermined by their bulging, cartoony cheeks. So many nuts, so little time. Chipmunk hibernation is kind of partial: through the winter, they tend to wake up every few days to eat and poop, and then they snuggle back down. I know, dream life, right?
At any rate, my little friend perched on the wall last night did look a bit tired and harried.
Or was I just seeing my own reflection?
Since my last letter, we all got colds and Lila stopped sleeping. She’s still making the big transition to her days at preschool, and is needing lots of love and attention while also exploding with language. Karen’s long-awaited sisters reunion in New York City looks like it will miss out on one of the three of them thanks to Hurricane Ian. Marty continues to work away at her book proposal, which is just astonishingly good, and getting better every day. Adam is Adam: steady and constant as ever.
As for me, I’m feeling a lot like my twitchy little friend on the wall: taking a breath and soaking in some beauty between bouts of frantic organizing and running around. I feel a deep need to prepare as my body registers the coming of the darker, colder months. The last couple of pandemic winters were hard, and a mild dread lands in my belly when I close the blinds in the evening and it’s dark that little bit earlier.
So I’m taking myself in hand. Time to prepare for hibernation mode. Here’s what I’ve done:
- I rearranged the map of my days to include plenty of time for cooking hearty and nourishing food for my family. Soup and stew are powerful forces for good in this world. Stirring a pot is meditation.
- I made a commitment to work on my second novel (working title “Taking Ruben”) every weekday. I’m going to get the initial draft finished by the first day of Spring, March 21st! Something creative to disappear into.
- I planned a visit with my mom for March. Something to look forward to.
In a Bewildered episode we recorded this week, I found myself opining that in the turning of the wheel (seasons, days, samsara, you name it), we are always being asked to find a greater and greater courage in ourselves. It was a throwaway line, but I actually think it’s really true. And you know what? Stuff that requires courage tends to be stuff worth doing.
So, as I gather nuts in my face and get my den to maximum coziness, I’m also going to do like my little friend and take a minute. I’m going to notice that as the leaves thin out in the forest, more and more light finds its way between the trees. I’m going to remember that stillness and silence are gifts that are offered to me in every season, and that winter sunsets are pure glory.