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.

2021 Haiku A Day Anyone?

Happy 2021! I took a two week break from blogging. The laptop, which represents work, was firmly left closed and put away in the drawer. I hope you have had a time of rest during these Twelve Days of Christmas that are time our of time. Literally! The twelve days were leftovers when they switched from the Julian to Gregorian calendar. My rest has been spent reading, calling/Zooming friends and family, making nice food, eating same, making sure I get some exercise everyday (step counter appended) and writing a haiku, senryu or tanka for the Omen Days.

The Omen Days come from a tradition of observing nature during the Twelve Days of Christmas, from 26th December/St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day until Epiphany/Nollaig na Ban on 6th January. From each day’s observation one should have some augury for the month of the year ahead. So Stephen’s Day would be Day 1 of the Omen Days. And January 6th is Day 12 of the Omen Days.

Some use tarot cards. I used some Emily Dickinson Divination cards last year. I cannot say if they accurately foretold the theme for each month in the year ahead, but I can say that over 2018/2019, writing a poem a day sustained me while my husband’s sister was dying, the funeral and aftermath.

This year nature and it’s resurgence (and THERE is a lovely word of the year for 2021, isn’t it?!) has sustained us in our isolation. So it seemed right to write a haiku, senryu or tanka each day through the omen days. We shall see if they have been any kind of augury.

Then,as I was totting up some steps on my pedometer the other day, I wondered if I could keep a haiku/senryu/tanka journal for the 365 days of 2021. I have said in previous posts that I feel that Doorways is a real theme for 2021. What doors will open? Maybe by keenly observing nature I will record this threshold time.

I have been given a lovely notebook with bees on it by our goddaughter. It is quite small. A perfect size for keeping a haiku journal. I have a couple projects that are going to keep my nose to the grind stone over the next few months, so keeping my poetry writing hand active with small, obtainable daily objectives seems sensible.

It’s been frosty and cold most of these Omen Days with Day 8 being the exception. Far sunnier than we normally experience in winter, too. My ten year old grandniece in Pennsylvania is a keen amateur meterologist. I wonder what she would predict from our weather? Although she is having far more fun following tornados in Galveston.

Here is a sampling of my Omen Days haiku, senryu and tanka. Haiku traditionally has a season word and, ideally, a bit of an ‘Ah ha! wrapped up in its seventeen syllables. Senryu also has the same seventeen syllable pattern, but observes human nature rather than the environment. A tanka is basically a haiku/senryu capped with two lines of seven syllables each.

Omen Day 1 - St. Stephen's Day, 26th December 2020

When's the sky true white?
A blank page that's fluttering
Wind an ocean roar

Omen Day 4 - 29th December 2020

Birds glide on thermals
They trust in their skill - or fate
Would that I could
Omen Day 5 - 30th December 2020

The forecast: snowfall
Frosty, bone cold daybreak
Prediction: mug's game!

Omen Day 8 - 2nd January 2021

Look up! Starry night
Dots of light sprawl the sky
The infinite small

The haiku shoguns would probably come after some of these efforts. But sometimes you just have to allow yourself to do the best you can and not let others judge it as not good enough.

Be gentle with yourself. Take care. We are not out of this viral storm yet. In the meantime, continue to create. Keep the hearth fire burning in your soul. St. Brigid’s Day is coming soon, and with it a 30 Day e-course to keep you inspired and resilient.

Snowdrops, a harbinger of Spring and Renewal, sacred to the saint and goddess Brigid

Featured image Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash