On this Winter Solstice, I recall how I fell in love with the north. It wasn’t the local joke that captures many people to this area; that particular summer where we have an Okanagan experience when it rarely rains and the mountains, lakes, and rivers open to us unimpeded by days of grey or cold. No, I was entranced by a different season. My first winter I moved in with my sister who was renting a house on the lake. That year the winter was one of perfection, at least in my mind it plays itself out that way. After arriving from several years of living in Vancouver, a place where I felt unconnected and could not truly find my place in the business, that first winter with its brilliant clear skies, abundance of snow, and a lake that offered herself to me was a truly magical bond. I was hooked!
This experience is one of the poems I wrote about in our chapbook ‘Snow Feathers,’ which our writers group launched earlier in December. I especially love this little collection. As expressed in the preface, ‘Winter, of all the seasons, captures the northern experience. Its rugged spirit is, at times, on the edge of the untamed. Northerners require and insist upon a spaciousness that is born from our attempts to befriend the unpredictable nature of our environment. The weather, the sense of isolation, and the increasing darkness are intense and so in turn we are challenged to invent creative ways where we are not just enduring but are in accompaniment with the powerful forces that surround us.’
Winter as well offers us the opportunity to journey inward, to slow our steps down and attune to our deeper stories. This is an invitation that I offer to you as well. Take the time to appreciate all of the magic this time of year provides. Let it be as a frosted window into your own inner landscape, filled with marvel and depth. Let it bring to you a deepening appreciation of your own light as well as a richer connection to place. Happy Solstice!
That first winter Lakelse lake froze
A glistening sheath encasing her black body
in secret realms where reeds and trout dream below
and I in my worn skates scritch scratch
across the surface
with cold biting my cheeks in dusky light.
Sky, a cape of pinks and mauves
gathers me in an icy embrace
pushing me forward.
It was then she moaned
a prehistoric choir song
as though reciting an ancient language
encrypted in the black ink below.
A wildness that threw me to my knees
with bloodless lips I could not answer,
instead search with trembling hands
for the thin white line of my tracks
as though I could ever leave this place
as though there was another
I could call home.