By Jan Pease
It’s time to catch our breath before the New Year comes. This is the week between. I start noticing the change in light just after New Year’s, because I’m really sensitive to Seasonal Affective Disorder. In the jungle that is our middle room, a tree is yearning and stretching toward the west. One orchid is blooming, gloriously. The asparagus fern is sending out long, shoots, indiscriminately. I wonder if it is drawn toward our SAD light, or maybe the last rays of sunlight as the sun sets. Anyway, they know that more light will come our way, even if skies are gray or the cold is bitter.
Sometimes we make resolutions for the next year. Mine are pretty simple. I hope that I will be kind. I hope to encourage rather than complain. I will try to be generous with my time and resources. I will try to be gentle with myself. I will work harder at being healthy.
Two gentle picture books come to my mind when I think about this time of year. One is “Stranger in the Woods” by Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick. Mr. Sams and Ms. Stoick set up a snowman in the woods, took stunning photographs of wildlife interacting with it, and turned it all into a lovely picture book. Their books have won more than 80 awards. I recommend that you sit in a cozy chair with a cup of something warm to drink, preferably with a child or cat in your lap, and absorb the beauty of these photographs.
Another book, “The Christmas Wish,” by Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen, has stunning photographs of their 4 year old daughter Anja wearing traditional Norwegian clothing and Sami reindeer shoes, interacting with Arctic animals. They have since developed a line of “Wish” books and products, but this first book is simply amazing. I believe its title in Norway was “The Christmas Dream.”
There is just something magical about snowy woods. One of my favorite parenting memories is of taking our daughter and two of her friends out to Youngstrom Woods during a rare January thaw. The girls were sure they were lost, but I could always hear them. The stillness of the woods was breathtaking, even with the giggling girls traipsing through the snow.
I’m a fan of “Star Trek: Enterprise. A favorite episode has brash Captain Archer chide an older, wiser alien, Captain Drennig, about his culture not visiting planet Earth: “I’m surprised your ancestors never made it to Earth.” Captain Drennig says, “We don’t believe in travelling great distances. There’s far too much to see close to home.” Like the fictional Captain Drennig, I find wonder in our own back yard. Catch your breath, put on some quiet music, and enjoy hearing Nature breathe in and out as one year closes and another year starts. Happy New Year!