‘The wet dawn inks are doing their blue dissolve.
On their blotter of fog the trees
Seem a botanical drawing.’
– Sylvia Path from Winter Trees
Today’s image: The tree
Sylvia Plath‘s poem Winter Trees, like others in the collection of the same name, describes a contest between darkness and light. I particularly love that metaphor: ‘On their blotter of fog’ that is the dawn sky. Later in the poem, Plath describes how the trees ‘grow memories \ ring on ring’. Each year, a fresh layer of tissue, an additional skin, providing them with layers of invulnerability, gathering knowledge whilst not prone to the suffering of every-day human pains.
In literature, and in culture and folklore, trees are commonly symbols of life, fertility and growth, of steadfast wisdom, of might, and of prosperity. They take on almost divine characteristics. There is the money tree; the tree of life. They feature as religious symbols. There is the tree of enlightenment. In the Christian tradition, there are prayer trees and, of course, the Christmas tree, evergreen and everlasting, and an evolution of hanging prayers and offerings upon branches.
Yet in winter, without their deciduous foliage, trees seem to represent not burgeoning and abundance, but rather a waiting; they are all stillness and stasis. Their branches have become stark and seem etched against the pale skies, much like, as in Plath’s poem, botanical drawings, revealing to us their essential form.
Today, during this quiet, we often speak of a ‘winter reset’, an opportunity, whilst the world (or, at least, our respective hemisphere of it) is at rest, to recharge and reset body and mind – though the body element of this will generally come after the seasonal festivities.
Reset can be done in many ways. As I mentioned in my previous post and first Advent posting, a natural introvert, I myself am aiming to use Blogmas to re-start my blogging habits.
Let’s hope that before too long in the new year, we will all be able to emerge from our separate cocoons into spring light.
What about you – is winter a time to reset your clock, or to retreat from darkness? Does the season energize or drain you?
The snaps I took on a recent walk on the Bingley St Ives Estate.