Time for Hibernation

It may seem counter intuitive to many people, but the Yuletide season is one where I deeply yearn retreat. I don’t want to be wildly social. I want to burrow in and read, write, dream, and eat lovely food. The hibernation instinct turns out to be a clever strategy while Omicron is rampaging around the island of Ireland. I promised myself a full Twelve Days of Christmas of down time, but I was itching to get back to the blog.

What I have been doing during my winter’s hibernation is observing the Omen Days with writing a haiku or poem each morning and some meditation time. I was really craving time to withdraw the way some people jones for mince pies. I have kept the profile low for most of these Omen Days. In the background, friends and family have had illness to contend with, or a bereavement, but also the jubiliation with the birth of a new grandbaby.

Uncertainty, sorrow, joy. All of these have played a part of the Twelve Days of Christmas that make up the Omen Days this Yule season. Each is a thread pulling through each and every year. Amidst so much change, these three are constant themes – uncertainty, sorrow, joy.

I have lit many candles and silently sent out many wishes, prayers and intentions during this time of quiet. This is how I fill the well and replenish myself.

The poem I will kick off 2022 on the blog was written on St. Stephen’s Day. I read it on John Wilmott’s Nature Folklore You Tube channel that very afternoon. Day One of the Omen Days there was my Hibernation celebration. No need for first footing, wassailing or any thing other than quiet and a feeling of deep, restful peace.

Bee Smith reads her poem Hibernation on this show
Hibernation

Some mornings in winter
the stillness covers you right up
to your chin,

a comforter, a weighted blanket
tucking up in, persuading 
you to stay.

There is nothing to do or be
or review, Just moments ticking, nothing
to foresee.

Some mornings in winter
when dawn is dusky and long
a key turns

in memory and your warm bed
allows your head to entertain
old stories,

not od demons or dangers, but
softer imaginings - legions of
friends who love

and know how to play - nicely -
as your mother would say,
and it's safe

in this stillness, that memory
of snow, piled blankets, the warmth of
winter's sleep.

The featured photo today is of our rescue dog who arrived this day eleven years ago to his forever home. He can teach me a lot about the value of hibernating.

Also, my parents were married this day seventy-five years ago, too.

The sun is shining and it is very cold for the first time this winter.

It felt like the time to break out a little from my self-imposed hibernation had come.

My word of the Year for 2022 is Joy. I wish you an yours much joy this New Year.

Hibernation Recuperation

I last posted twenty days ago. That was probably the last time I put my fingers to the laptop keyboard. In the interval I have made do with the the finger stabbing at the tablet’s keyboard. I briefly flirted with the dictation facility, but that was just annoying. For this past twenty days I have been in both hiberation and recuperation. I am only just emerging from my bear’s cave.

On 5th January I made the very bad decision of trying to preempt a fight between the two warring tom cats in our household. For my trouble I had over twenty pounds of angry cat hurl himself at me. My forearm was badly bruised, the wrist sprained and there were a number of scratches. Over the night of 6th/7th January as I watched the storming of Capital Hill my right hand swelled to double of the left. By dawn my husband was driving me to Sligo General A&E.

No one wants to go to a hospital in the middle of a pandemic, especially when your country has suddenly ranked first in the world for the number of infections per capita. Also, no one wants to be Cat Scratch Woman on a snowy day when A&E is suddenly flooded with falls, fractures and heart attacks who all are definitely higher in the triage pecking order. By the time Cat Scratch Woman got seen I needed IV antibiotics. There were mutterings about sending me to Galway, three hours away, to see the plastic surgery team there. There were dire mutterings of losing some of the hand’s use. In the end, eight hours after I registered at reception, it was decided I needed to be admitted to hospital for regular antibiotic infusions. They thought I would be there for three days. In the end it was overnight and then home with antiobiotics the size of horse pills.

I am now home fifteen days and do not seem to have have any symptoms of hospital acquired plague. My Covid test at the hospital was negative (Of course! I have been no where and only seen my husband and grocery store staff and had shouted conversations with neighbours from sixty paces away for the past three months!)

A&E Departments are their own little universes at the best of times. In a pandemic they take on a certain surreality. No one spoke to each other. We were all hunched into ourselves, masked behind our masks. The hospital porters seem congenitally, relentlessly cheerful and postive. The hospital cleaning staff toss their banter about like it is street theatre. But those of us waiting were as silent as a church before a funeral Mass.

Once I finally was seen and could find a sandwich to buy I did not want to eat it in A&E. I paused on a bench outside it in the foyer that was the pre-Covid19 entrance to the hospital. A&E is to the right. To the left was once upon a time the Oncology Ward and is now the Covid19 ward. As I chomped on my egg and mayo sandwich a small woman in full protective gear, looking like a back to front elephant, trundled past on her way into that ward. Or was she more like the Caterpillar in the Tenniel drawings of Alice in Wonderland and the hose not an elephant’s trunk, but the Caterpillar’s hookah. Her locomotion was more caterpillar than elephant. Or, as my brother said to me a couple days later, perhaps I was a tad feverish at that point.

They made me Bed 7 in a six bed ward and they kept pumping me full of antiobiotics. My husband had sent out a Facebook request for prayers on my behalf. Between them, and the IV antibiotics, the Orthopoedic bods were happy to send me home by 2pm the next day. Besides, there is pressure for beds. I was released home on the tenth anniversary of my mother’s death.

Compounding that sense of not quite reality were some synchronicities. First, the Malaysian A&E doctor shared my father’s forename. On the ward, one of the nurses was Julian; I say the Julian of Norwich mantra daily. Then came the challenge to get blood from my deep veins. They called in their own Sure Shot, a Polish man originally from the hometown of the Black Madonna, who had a ‘shaman trick’ to finding the vein for the required sample. I wasn’t aware of my small army of well-wishers since I keep social media off my mobile phone, but I felt very ‘held’ all the while nonetheless.

Home has been a slow process of medication and gradual rehabilitation of the hand and wrist. I have managed to keep up the haiku/senryu/tanka a day journal. Though I did have to compose 7th January’s in my head while I was sitting in A&E. My handwriting was very shaky those first days back, but you try writing with your hand in splint!

It has also meant that I have had to let go of certain January projects. There are limits and I have had to humbly accept them. Though I did have a real bargaining phase where I thought I might adapt things. So no 30 day e-course is available for the Season of Imbolc. It was a worthy project, but it will have to be for another year. I especially wanted to do it as this is the tenth anniversary of my leading a Brigid Pilgrimage in Ireland for Celtic Women International. The blandishments of many loving friends, as well as the dearly beloved husband, talked me down from those overzealous ambitions…eventually. I am truly indebted to one of my students for helping me see clearly and to let go of any lingering guilt about not trying to do it all. Once I stopped trying to push the river, the healing began to flow.

I have also had to delay plans to get back to my Zoom classes. This is because I do have a very large project, Mapping the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark Poem by Poem, in the works. That is going to need a lot of energy, which I do not have an infinite supply of at the moment. More about that in another post.

My fingers may be dancing over the keyboard, but the wrist tires out far sooner than I would like. Domestic chores are my physio therapy and each day I do a little bit more. I am having to treat my body like a temple.

Here are a couple haiku/senryu/micropoems from my journal while I have been in hibernation/recuperation mode.

7th January 2021, Sligo General A&E

Stolid faces gaze
Waiting for their name to be called
Quiet stoicism
21st January 2021

Remorseless toil
Perpetual do over
Sisyphus' housework
23 January 2021

Outside my window
Icing sugar coated world
Birds' chirruping spring

It is good to be back at the keyboard again.

Hibernation Moon

The Sunday Weekly poem looks back a few days to the full moon on 12th November. Without outdoor light polution, the full moon is particular noticable where we live in rural Ireland. Even the waning moon last night cast a luminous glow down our uncurtained corridor. It’s unavoidable when it is cloudless. And if it is cloudness in an Irish November then it is cold.

Indigenous peoples had names for each full moon. Some work with the climate in Ireland, other’s less so. Sturgeon is not part of our culture. But Grain works for what is happening in our August Irish climate. While there may be no beavers in Ireland,we certainly have known frost some mornings this week here in Corrogue.

Somewhere it is snowing already and some mornings we could characterise it as a Frosty Moon. However, we have had a day of literal deluge at the full moon this week. Others have experienced flooding as the high tide went higher and broke records. Another of the November full moon’s names seemed appropriate for this week’s poem – Hibernation Moon.

 Hibernation Moon
 
That day it poured enough to warrant both paddle
and ark-sized boat. All domestic livestock gathered,
hunkered in, lying close to their humans.
Sleet spattered windowpanes. Thunder folderolled. 
Knuckledusting cold had to be taken on the chin
if you opened wide the door of your winter cabin.
 
We are all become bears in our day dark dens,
listening to snores, counting out the number of naps
(though who drowsily keeps score when to sleep
is to invite dreams to shake you awake moonstruck
in pre-dawn gloom?)  Only the cold, cold moon penetrates
the seamless dark of our hibernation’s nest,
the still, stark truth of our dream-filled designs.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured image Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash