The longest night is approaching. One culture to the next, we're lighting candles, turning on strings of tiny lights - little promises the longer days will return. Even birthday candles look different to me in December: the more the better, for the greater the glow, the stronger the fire in the belly of the winter soul.
With almost a week of grey skies, the days feel like a holding pattern. Yesterday, I walked along the lake, under the bridge, the highway above. The muffled sound of steady traffic matching the volume of the low, slow waves; the air cold enough to need a tissue. Along the water’s edge, I found a wide border, a myriad of little shells pressed into the sand, like they had rolled off the water and settled in to pass the winter. I started walking back towards the downtown, shells crunching under my boots, cutting into the dampened atmosphere to the point I couldn’t help but count my steps.
When the path turned to concrete, I found the boardwalk, empty. Somebody had pressed pause. Even the holiday lights seemed to be waiting.
Beware the hunters and travellers this morning, up before dawn, hungry to take on the black day. I'll be staying far away from malls, big boxes, boutiques... unless there's a photo calling out to be made.
The warning came two mornings ago: a dusting of snow in the overnight. Then yesterday, with the evening's disappearing light, snow started to come down, a true first snowfall, the kind that creates havoc on the roads and with people's plans. As I waited for the school bus to arrive, snow accumulated and a softness took hold: the sky became a giant soft box, street lights powered up a glow. Slush muffled out unhappy traffic. And as the blanket grew thicker, the noise turned white enough to hear the flakes touch down.
The colder weather is gently seeping in. In a fall more graceful than others, the trees have the time to reveal their full range unlike the last few years when the warm weather held on much longer than usual; then winter obligingly came in with a snap, chasing the leaves away abruptly, green to brown, then fast to the ground. This year’s colours are surreal. They call for gazes and long pauses, to note what will be gone in a few hours, to feel this marker of an end.
We’re just a few days away from Thanksgiving Monday, here in Canada. Families of all sorts come together to share good company and a big delicious meal. Like clock work, when everyone around the table is full, wishing nothing more but sit and let their meal digest, the stories from previous years will come to life; the old will blend with the new of the day and make a fresh batch of memories.