"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter River

Coming around the corner of the trail, the place where I often see eagles in the snag on the other side, I looked up. The river roared past, surging over banks and swamping the trail just ahead. No eagles on this day, but the power of the sweeping flood made me stop in awe. Movement upstream caught my eye. Before the object fully registered, my brain assumed log. It took a second or two for the inner tube to come into focus.

Orca black, bulging at one end, racing merrily along the surface of winter-swollen waters. A summer memory refusing to submit. I could almost hear a yee-haw, almost see a child's glee-filled face and scabby knees, almost feel hot rubber against sun-stung thighs.

I tend to forget from year to year how challenging January and February are for me. No holidays to distract. Cold gray wet days that even increasing minutes of light don't ameliorate. All the sunshine memories I managed to store away during summer months grown dusty and lifeless, too far in the past to warm anything.

To make matters worse, I didn't get nearly enough internal bits of summer squirreled away this year. As though this were a famine and drought year. For me, in many ways, it was.  And now I'm tired in whole new definitions of the word. I can't get warm no matter what I do. My spirit feels hypothermic.

Eagles visit often. Earlier this week, one flew by the restaurant window where we ate breakfast. Catkins hang in abundance from delicate hazel fingers. Robin chirps slice through frosted air. Small offerings of hope, promises of change, that I want to embrace. And can't quite.

Snow dresses naked trees in beautiful furs, chases gray to the edges of awareness, turns air into healing medicine. I see it, get it, but feel only restriction which I resist, and the brittle cold which I resent.

But there's something about that inner tube. Steady in the frantic frigid current. Barreling along not caring a whit what season the river is, because it is summer. I can, even days later, imagine myself riding it beyond the limits of the river, right out of winter and back into sunshine and freedom. I hold on, to the fat circle and to the hope of the softer, slower, warmer river of summer it came from and rushes back toward.


Barb said...

Hi Deb, Hang on to the hope of the tube - I think summer is a little way off, but you'll get there. This is a scene I'd steal from you: "Snow dresses naked trees in beautiful furs, chases gray to the edges of awareness." I knew someone was getting the snow storms this winter - it must be you!

Richard said...

Here in northeast Florida, it's warm, too warm for me. Global warming is a scary thing. I want the old days when I was a kid. We had cold winters here back then, no air conditioning for the hot summers, and tropical rains during the summer. It seems to all be gone now. What's taking it's place isn't very pretty.

Dee Ready said...

Dear Deb,
Once again I read with awe your lyrical prose as you describe the malaise you seem to be in. You didn't capture enough summer--what a provocative thought--and so winter is belaboring you. And yet. And yet. You recognize and embrace its beauty despite the chill.
You are a wonder. You truly are.


Sandi said...

Hi Deb!
How cool that you witnessed this wild ride, and of course, was able to take this sighting and make something magical out of it! I love the caricature in my mind of you, ". . . riding it beyond the limits of the river, right out of winter and back into sunshine and freedom." Remember the author who came to school years ago, and drew the great pictures of kids and teachers? You're smiling big, in my mind, hanging on tight.
I hope you can at least be grateful that January is almost over. :) The dreary days are marching on, and spring will come to release you.
Loved hearing from you this morning. We'll plan a spring break day, for sure!
Loving big hugs to you!

DJan said...

For many, the languor of summer is replaced by the malaise of winter. I kind of like winter but you have to notice I moved away from REAL winters (in Colorado) to take on the more wimpy ones we get here in the Pacific Northwest. Your prose is very evocative, Deb. I feel it...

yaya said...

Our January is ending on snowy note but the winter has been milder this year. Last year I felt just as you do in this post. (although I could never express it as beautifully as you did!) I could hardly wait to see sprouts in flower bed and buds on the trees. Everything came late too and then we had all that rain. Somehow I'm getting through this year in a better frame of mind. Maybe because I was dreading it so much and when it wasn't as harsh I could take a deep breath! Spring will come my friend, just hang in there!

Katie Gates said...

Damnit, Deb, you did it again! The tears sit atop my eyes as I type.

I once heard an interview with a novelist, and she (the novelist) said that the key to writing well was to describe something that might have been described a million times before, but to tell it in a completely different way. Not to say that the scene here has been a described a million times, but reading this post reminded me of that interview. You use words and metaphors and phrases in a remarkably unique way. If I came across a Deb Shucka paragraph, and it did not bear your name, I would know that you had written it. Bravo for that!

Journaling Woman said...

Great post. I struggle to get through January/February every year.

When I go back to my depression, it's funny to me how nature makes me whole again.


Anonymous said...

Definitely something about the inner tube! What a great analogy. Yes, we must hold on to what it symbolizes in our lives.

And Richard's comment. I'm with him. I want the "old days" back, in some ways, also!

Thanks for stopping by. I think you will very much like Christine Grote's memoir Dancing in Heaven.

Have a lovely Sunday.
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

Linda Myers said...

If we can get through January.

Donna said...

I can never get over how BEAUTIFULLY and poetically you write, Deb! It's almost magical prose you write. I, too, am not a winter weather lover. Waiting for spring to thaw like you.

Stacy Crawford said...

Hopefully you'll see some of the 50 degree days that we are forcasted this week in Ohio.

I understand the gray dreariness of winter.

Wishing some sunshine your way!

#1Nana said...

I feel it too. I lull myself to sleep at night huddled under my down comforter by thinking of floating on a raft in warm turquoise water.

I'm looking forward to spring.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Lovely. Hope you get some sunny warmth soon. (I carry my inner tube with me. Around my middle.) :)

kario said...

Beautiful. Your words and your ability to acknowledge and understand and accept what you are feeling right now. I know that this dormant time is one of growth for you, too, and I have a feeling that when Spring springs for you, it will be, as my tween says, "Epic!"

Sending love and light.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said Deb and makes me even more sure I would like to pass the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award to you - I hope you will accept it! Sweet may not be the adjective most commonly used to describe us but your writing is truly irresistible.

Ed Pilolla said...

what a pleasant gift to happen along to your place this morning. your stroll along the river is indeed lyrical. and insightful. it's many things, including hopeful. january and february are challenges usually forgotten about within our own gray. this piece reads like a beautifully decorated vignette.

Kathryn Grace said...

After all these years, it still amazes me, how our spirits reach for the tiniest of gifts and hold on for dear life through tough times.

Sublime writing as always. Puts me right there, feeling the chill in my bones, wind whipping my cheeks with a biting sting. Then there's the bravery, how you hang on, searching for and finding gold dust in the gloom.

I'd invite you to sunny San Francisco, but as soon as you schedule a visit, it could flip-flop to rain and fog. Still, if you'd like to make the trip, come on down! It's gorgeous here today.