a treasure to look upon it

I haven’t been writing much.  If you’re one of my regular friends I’m sure you’ve noticed.  Lists of beautiful things and posts of YouTube clips are not writing.  I’ve learned to accept the dry periods and assume the “writerly collector” in me is needing this time to just collect experience.  But it’s been bothering me – posting other people’s work and videos of other people are not going to bring you back, and I can’t stand the thought of losing any one of you.

Part of it is that I’ve been immersing myself in good books over my daily commute – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.  In fact my excuse for staying with this job which is an hour’s trip from my home has always been that those two hours of travel time every day are reading time.  But the problem with immersing myself in books during this time is that I’m not paying attention to my favourite subject: that little space of world around me and the people in it.

By the end of winter I start feeling trapped by it – the darkness, the extended periods of painful temperatures, the ugliness.  Let’s face it – snow in the city is only beautiful when it first falls.  Then it becomes dirty mounds on sidewalks and on edges of parking lots and lining curbs everywhere.  I’m all about the changing seasons, I feel lucky that I live in such a climate – but by late January, I’m finished with this damned season. 

I’m sure it’s all related to a lack of sunlight.  In fact I know it – after an hour’s lunchtime walk in bright sunlight today I felt heady, almost drunk.  And the move to Daylight Time this past weekend has flipped some internal switch – I get to evening and find daylight and I’m noticeably happy.  Lots of my friends are still complaining about that lost hour of sleep – I’m practically giddy for it; I’d gladly sacrifice two hours to have Daylight Time back again.

I wish I was one to write myself through a down or difficult period.  The last few months of hunkering against the weather, coming out of the subway after work into the dark, the sequestering away from humanity and losing myself in other peoples’ stories – have all caused me to close off, and thus close off that well of stories. 

During today's lunchtime walk I stopped and looked ahead at a length of sidewalk on which there was no snow, no ice, no slush, no puddles; just a clear sidewalk under a sunny sky.  And when I stood there looking at it, I felt a sense of freedom I haven’t felt in more than a month, a welcome desire to get back outside of myself.

That sidewalk, with the feeling of freedom the sight of it gave me, is beautiful thing number 24. 

As I walked on, one of my favourite song verses ran through my head:

You say you'll give me a highway with no-one on it
Treasure, just to look upon it
All the riches in the night

U2, from Rattle and Hum, 1988

Let’s call that little simple little verse, with its image so humble and idea so rich, beautiful thing 25, and my theme for escaping the bonds of winter.

I'm finding beauty – are you?


  1. Reply
    Marilyn March 15, 2011

    Lack of sunlight certainly has a negative effect. I remember the winters I spent in London when I used to look out the office window as early as 3.30pm and it would already be quite dark so by the time I left for home at 5pm it was Jack-the-Ripper dark and still dark when I set off to work the next morning!
    We don’t have extremes here, not of weather or lack of daylight, or of temperatures but I LOVE daylight saving when suddenly you have an evening. A kick-your-shoes-off-and-run-in-the-grass evening. Our daylight saving ends on the first weekend in April so nights will come quicker for us.

  2. Reply
    willow March 15, 2011

    Not to worry. Spring will soon be here!

  3. Reply
    Jennifer March 15, 2011

    Oh yes, we get that for a certain time Marilyn – going to work when it’s dark and coming home when it’s dark. Oh, for one of those kick-your-shoes-off-and-run-in-the-grass evenings! Soon I’ll have forgotten all about the winter.

  4. Reply
    Jennifer March 15, 2011

    Yes, with the change in time, I can feel the spring!

  5. Reply
    Reluctant Blogger March 16, 2011

    Yes, I struggle with the lack of sunlight too. And yes, perhaps I too am invigorated by the change in the seasons – the newness of the next one. I hadn’t really thought of that before, just thought I hated greyness. But I always seem to lack energy a bit right at the beginning of March if we get grey days – like I have just had enough of them and can’t jolly myself through them.
    I have felt a bit guilty off and on about not reading blogs, let alone writing anything (which I haven’t for weeks).
    Nice to see you back anyway!

  6. Reply
    Susannah March 16, 2011

    We don’t change our clocks until the end of March, I am looking forward to the extra evening light!
    It is always good to see a new post from you. x

  7. Reply
    Jennifer March 16, 2011

    Yes, it’s a lack of energy for me too RB. A friend pointed out tonight, the air is physically lighter, the cold air is heavier, denser. Never mind – we read blogs when we can. Always glad to see you too though.

  8. Reply
    Jennifer March 17, 2011

    I’m sure you are Susannah. Always glad to see you visiting. x

  9. Reply
    deb @ talk at the table March 17, 2011

    I’ve been trying to spend as much time as possible outdoors.
    More reading than writing for me as well,
    but I’m still fairly new at the writing so I didn’t catch the connection, but I think you are right.

  10. Reply
    Jennifer March 18, 2011

    Yes, being outdoors is healing for me too Deb – and wonderful sunshine – I can’t wait to get out for a lunchtime walk!
    Well, for anyone who wants to write, and continue to grow in it, reading is a prime tool. And most people who love to write love to read. But my primary inspiration for writing is in the people/things/events around me when I’m in public, so I suppose I should just alter my reading time!

  11. Reply
    Jeff Griffiths March 23, 2011

    Hi Jennifer
    It is March 23rd and I am catching up on your writings. I like this one, honest, the writing struggle, how it eats at you if it gets sidelined. I think of it as riding the waves…it always returns. Reading is so important…I always tell the people in my writing class that reading is essential for 2 reasons, it inspires your own writing and if you want others to read your work you better read their’s.

  12. Reply
    Jennifer March 24, 2011

    Hi Jeff,
    I’m guilty of not having got around enough lately too! (And your latter reason is particularly true in the bloggy world!)
    I too argue vociferously about the importance of reading to writers in my classes. Only knowing your own writing is like having a giant mansion with only one small window facing in one direction.
    Similarly, I knew a person who called himself a musician, but never acknowledged or cared about any music that came before the late 90s. My argument was – how could Keith Richards have ever come up with his famous riff without first knowing Chuck Berry? Stupid of me – he cared nothing about Keith Richards or Chuck Berry – but therein hammers home my point, no?

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