One endearment of this season, is how it lays bare to view all that is hidden. The sunken garden I pass in the centre of Edmonton that most would never see in summer, shrouded as it is in pine, basswood, and maple, now stands open to the light. The night sky stands just as revealed. The bright stars I’ve been seeing in the dawn sky on my way to work these past weeks are not stars at all but the planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter.
I find the darkness of this season demands of me a certain stillness and a certain maverick joy. All that is essential is brought into sharp relief, particularly with those close to me. For example, last weekend I spent an afternoon with my 87-year-old mother learning how to make cream puffs from a 1903 recipe. And if you’ve ever made cream puffs, you’ll know what I mean. Throwing half a pound of butter into a pot of boiling water and stirring in the flour on a hot stove, I felt for a moment like we were baking in the Middle Ages over an open fire, part of a long line of mothers and daughters, held together by these simple actions and a desire to feed those we love something sweet.
Friday night, one of my nephews came over to put together a new piece of furniture for me (a small Christmas favour, he said), and we fell to talking about his future, all the choices that a twenty-year-old must make, drawing me back to my own memories of being twenty and forward into a time that doesn’t yet exist for either of us. Those decisions tying us together, generation after generation, asking the same questions: What shall we do? Who shall we be?
There are other mysteries, too, that I ponder. Friends and family who have suffered losses this year: poor health, marriage breakdown, or unemployment. Mysteries that require a tougher faith. Questions that I can only stop and hold like the ancients, who a thousand of years ago wondered if the sun would be reborn. Somehow, but perhaps not in ways that we can always imagine.