'Prepare to be immersed in the heat and vibrancy of Florida's natural world, full of such sensual detail that to read it is to breathe it in.' -Jo Shapcott [review of Greyhound Night Service]

On not walking on New Year's Day

On this new year's day I spent the entire day indoors, unless you count the brief, wildly-windy walk from my car to my front door at lunch time when I returned from the eve's sleepover party.  All week I'd looked forward to the new year beginning and to what I might do on that day, today.  I even wrote in my diary, 'walk' and imagined the sunny brilliance of the first day of a new year.  In preparation for today's potential walk, earlier in the week I went for a lovely 4km mission to find the best path to our local park and back avoiding main roads.  And yesterday afternoon, in the frosty, orangey-pink light of dusk I savoured the idea of my new year walk.

Not to be! This morning I woke up early and peered through the curtains at the...murk that greeted me.  What time was it?  Where was the sun?  Why had British winter suddenly descended upon us like a fug?  Didn't anyone tell the sun it was New Year?  Over breakfast I looked out and wondered at what time I would wrap up and brave the misty cold.  By lunch it was tipping it down outside and by early afternoon the wind had picked up to howling force.

So instead of walking today, I decided to draft a poem that had been bothering me, lying unfinished in my notebook like a ticking bomb.  By early evening now, the poem has been expanded, rewritten, hacked, shaped and twisted and finally...finally reduced down to its pithy core.  By the end of the process I was sweating (from the cups of hot tea no doubt and the cat on my lap and the heating on high) and breathing heavily (from the overly-long lines I had attempted to squeeze into the rhythm with failure), and I may as well have just come back from a walk.

So the new day, new year, has started us off with a usual British winter.  In the past week since returning from a cold but sunny trip to South Carolina, I'd thought of almost nothing except the sun and the beautiful, unusual Berkshire weather we'd been having all the way through Christmas.  I woke every day since my return on the 23rd to sun, frost glinting with light, sun and more sun.  Vitamin D here I come!

And today, instead of light, I think of darkness.  The type of darkness that badgers and hibernating bears live in: curled up, waiting, cozy darkness.  The kind that is outside my shut curtains right now.  The trees whipping around, the odd firework exploding and a kind of wind song in the ache of cold that comes from old year ending.  And I am content with this.  I am content to end the first day of the year with a new poem and a blanket of darkness around my lit house.

And in ode to the sunny day that never was today in the place where I live, a sunrise poem from a whole collection of sunrise poems: from 'Readable But Not Read', The Sunrise Liturgy by Mia Anderson (Wipf & Stock, 2012)

'...Your eye, reading. Horizon a blink
the far shore the eye-lid with its lashes, the near shore the lower lashes
you the pupil in the middle...

...blink, and the colour has changed
like a carousel of old-fashioned slides, blink and the flame
has gone rose, the rose peach, the peach
gold, the gold ivory and the luminous cream, and then--

Brother Sun has sprung

pop-up jack-in-the-biodegradable-box of night
coming up from down-under
gasping for air as he clears the watery fleuve.'