Every September I say it. It’s the most beautiful month of the year where I live. Summer is still here and yet the evenings are beginning to cool. Soft breezes visit often. Wild flowers fall about lazy and flourishing in their rich colours. Spectacular cloud formations make the skies endlessly entertaining. And the light – the light of September is its greatest gift: soft, translucent, dreamy, gentle.
My mind is glad to wake but my eyes are not, and they do their best to stay closed against the brightening window. I try to focus on some fat steely looking clouds hovering there, my eyelids protesting while I try to gauge the direction of their journey across the sky, but they are moving so slow my eyes won’t stay open long enough to judge. Opening them again, a beefy face underneath a newsboy cap emerges in the heavy grey mounds, and it’s something to focus on. I watch the face and it watches me as it creeps south toward the lake, past my window and out of sight, presumably turning its attention to sleeping dwellers in the building across the street.
I lay there and think about that face for a minute, and then, eyes ready to receive the morning, open to see the sky now entirely blue beyond the window. I get out of bed and put the kettle on for coffee.
Sometimes light falls on things in a fleeting moment. The subtlety of the moment can be so quick and startling that you suspect it was placed in front of you just so you’ll open your eyes and see.
Every year I dislike this more:
This year it’s been relentless. I’m tired of your icy sidewalks. I’m tired of it hurting to just walk outside. I’m tired of your grey monotones. I’m tired of cold feet and numb fingers and whipping winds. I’m leaving you Toronto.
It’s deepest, darkest winter. Technically it’s not the darkest winter; that went by a month ago and I am starting to notice the longer days and I'm grateful for that. But it’s deepest, darkest winter in that there are months of it behind us and months ahead. This past week we’ve been in a big freeze. And while winter walks usually feel good with cheeks glowing healthy pink and the hearty inhalation of great gobs of oxygen, recent blustery days have made it really unpleasant to be out.
I’m actively not complaining about the cold. In other parts of this province and most of my country it’s much colder than it is here. My Australian friends are enduring the worst heat wave they’ve ever had. In a cold snap you can make yourself more comfortable; in a heat wave there are only so many clothes you can take off. Cold is invigorating; heat is energy sapping.
In winter I miss the light more than anything. These days the subtle progress of daylight’s lingering over the street feels like a blessing; I want to reach out and grab it but the million colours of twilight elude me as exit the work day, moving westward ahead as I walk toward home. I miss the explosion of colours in the other seasons; winter's twilight is a jewel on the mostly monotone landscape.
The light has gone when I get home. I turn on the stove light, all my life a symbol of comfort. A symbol of the best thing about deepest, darkest winter – how good it feels to get home.
This morning I'm moving about my place, finishing coffee and packing things up for work, and I'm stopped still by the sun showing itself, suddenly, in a mirror.
"Good morning," the sun says. "What's your hurry?"
"I'm glad to see you too," I say.
This morning I get up and, waiting for the kettle to boil, I pull the curtains back and look out the window and find the photo of the day.
Hello Thursday. I'm glad to see you.
I get as much pleasure looking at the objects in my window when they're reflected by the morning light onto the curtain as I do looking at them when the curtain is open. It's kind of otherworldly-like; secret goings on in that other realm just beyond the reach of this one. Like when you're a little kid and you think all your toys come alive when you're sleeping, interacting in a toy community with toy concerns and toy traditions and toy conversations - all above the little non-magical world of mortals and thus never to be shared.