January can be so dreary. The sun seems to be absent most days, as if it too had headed south with the birds. And what little light we do have leaves the sky much too early. As a result, most of us seem to be walking around with a permanent squint, just trying to get to here from there without bumping into anything. In this house we often pass the time by reading, playing games, or knitting. Though what should be fun can often be challenging - sometimes the yarn you choose hides the pattern you are trying to create and you must find a brighter yarn to substitute. But once you get going - rolling the dice, turning the pages, or clicking the needles - these activities become meditative. They keep us distracted from other thoughts: the imminent loss of beloved friends, or the fact that spring can't get here soon enough. At this time of year we can often feel isolated and suffocated, yet we're still looking for a way to break free of the fog that has encased us like a second skin. Reading can provide an escape, but there too is despair when you least expect it. Paging through a children's graphic novel the other day I came across a depiction of a horrific incident, based upon an actual historic event. I wanted to stop reading, forget about it all together, but something made me keep going. When it was all said and done, I realized its true importance. Without the darkness, how would we ever appreciate the light...
When I think of the dark, these days, I think of power outages that happen just as I'm starting to make dinner. But that's a hard photograph to take. So this - my morning coffee. Dark coffee. At least two cups, sometimes three if I'm yawning in the afternoon. Notice the eco-friendly, reusable, gold mesh filter; I try to save the world whenever I can. Michael once brought medium coffee home from the Co-op. I tried not to complain. But then, I thought, he has to learn. He noticed it himself. "What is wrong with this coffee?!" he asked one morning, spluttering. "Ah," I answered. "It's medium." Apparently, we are not a medium kind of family. Sometimes we are cranky in the morning. We need dark.