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  • Writer's pictureMadison Kolla

Winter Nights

Where I live on the southern tip of the west coast of so-called Canada (WSÁNEĆ territory) snow is a brief and rare-ish winter treat. This year, it started falling on Christmas eve, and lasted through to New Years. By early this week, it had all melted, save for the clumps of ice in shady ditches. And then, the other night, the eve of Epiphany, the twelfth night of Christmas, Yuletide, of the Winter Nights, a foot of snow fell again.

My ancestors might have said Frau Holle was shaking out her feather bed, or that the Cailleach was up to her winter-making.

Those 11 days and 12 nights (Rauhnächt), which account for the difference between a lunar calendar of 354 days and our current solar one, represent an in-between time, a pause, before the cycle of the year begins to turn once again. They have always belonged to the archetype of the old mother, creator of rugged landscapes, guardians of wild animals, for who - long before the invention of Santa Claus - we left out offerings of treats and baked goods on Christmas eve, and Twelfth night. The nights in between were important spaces for divination, for seeing beyond and through, a liminal time for dreaming into being the year to come. *

This place I live is not prepared for snow. Roads don't get plowed or sanded, my driveway is long and steep.

It was such a wonderful excuse to BE the first week. Nowhere to go, nowhere to get to.

Coziness and rest and quiet days doing not much at all. Dreaming deeply, moving slowly.

Reflecting. Wondering. Wintering.

The past few years I've spent New Years Eve in front of the fire, releasing and honoring the past year, and weaving an image of the one to come.

And so the New Year begins, and with it, the pressures of resolutions and goals, of hustle and productivity. Time to dive enthusiastically into work and the year.

And then another dump of snow. A reminder - not just yet.

Frustration as snow and more snow forces clients to cancel, reschedule, and cancel again.

Stirring so much of the 'not just yet' we've put up with for the past 2 years. Not just yet time to gather with loved ones, to launch events, to host community.

We've been re-routed, postponed, undone over and over and over again.

The pain and stress of it is palpable. The only balm - a little self-compassion.

So this year I'm heeding the weather, the wise old women of winter, and extending my liminal reflecting space beyond one night, beyond 12 nights, and through another month. From Winter Solstice (Dec 21) through Imbolc (Feb 1) I hold the intention to rest long and deep, to sit with the unraveling and unknowns, the composting of what is no longer necessary from the past year (or 2!), trusting that they will fuel growth in the next ... eventually ... when it's time. I rest. I bask. I be.

The ground is still frozen, the trees are still bud-less, and you too, have permission to be on hold.

To not need to dash into a New Year with Resolutions and Plans and More Doing. There is enough time for doing. There is enough time for this.

The fog lay so low, heavy and quiet. A thick blanket of gray. Stillness, until a heron emerges out of the haze, flying just overhead

prehistoric wings beating slowly, long legs trailing behind, and feet. Then disappearing back into the white. Weighing down, covering all, tucking us in as if to say:

Shhh, Shhh, Keep Still.

There is nothing to be done. How many words do you need to spell quiet? How many letters to say be here now? Just these.

* For more in-depth historical context (and tasty recipes!) check out:


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