Seeking Mid-Winter Peace

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Back into the routine this week – 7am at my desk, entering into that place between dreams and waking where the writing seems to live. I watch the burnt orange sunrise and the jackdaws returning like a song, a score, streaming in single file to the beech trees outside my window. Then my second cup of coffee in the big mug with the speckled glaze, a chapter of my book (Samuel Pepy’s 1663 diaries right now) and a walk out with the dog, whatever the weather. This is what it is to be alive in the winter, not powering into resolutions, but, for me, it is about searching for that mid-winter peace. So often I have gotten lost in the cold and the dark of January. So often I have found myself winter-sick and waiting daily for spring. This year I decide to bed into it, to wear the fluffy socks, to tie my hair in a bun and wrap myself in a thick cardigan, to read by lamp light when the sun sets at four, to get out in my fleece lined walking trousers and pull down my bobble hat and head out into the sleet and the rain, across the valley, to sit on the bench in the wind and watch the fieldfares and rooks, to listen for the buzzard’s cry. It all sounds very romantic, but I find even here work needs to be done to find a way to find the peace. Paid work has to be moved around to fit a walk in, writing deadlines have to be prioritised, always, so some days are still spent at the desk. My desk looks out onto other houses in the village, but from my seat behind the computer I see only sky, one rooftop, beech trees. The perspective means an almost constant flow of birds balancing on the updrafts and breeze that blows off the Wolds or off the sea is visible to me between dawn and dusk. This, in itself is a place of peace amongst the stress of grant applications and tax returns, deadlines and submissions. Friday afternoons in January I run a poetry group, a small band of poets seeking the same thing, I think: a way into poems, the promise of absorbing the craft, of finding voice and finding paths through the words. This is how I work. I like to work with others in the same way. This week while the writers were working, studiously, heads down, involved in their own internal world, I drank my earl grey from my wide rimmed cup with the blue hares running round it and allowed myself to sit and watch the sky. The sun was setting, the jackdaws were leaving to their overnight roost. One day I shall seek out the evening roost. In that moment when i could feel the joy in my chest, watching them stream across the frame of the window, I realised I had found the peace I was looking for.

Even if this all changes again and I no longer have the privilege of seeking peace through my working day, I have it now. You have to love the things you have, in this world, and if you don’t then you either change the things you love, or you change your life until you love the things that are in it. I feel like I have been far out at sea for years, and now am resting on the shoreline I was seeking.

Next week I run the Dawn Chorus and will be joined by other writers in my writing hour, for that quiet pocket of writing time. I look forward to being in a room of people wanting the same thing.

I hope you are navigating midwinter, and finding the things that bring you peace.

Until next time


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