Poor Rudolph! (Well, we can hope not! This was a sign in the window of a butcher shop in the Plateau.)
It's been cold and grey here in Montreal, with a few warmer days -- finally! -- toward the end of this week. I could feel myself getting worn out by the winter: the cold, the slush, the crowded buses and trains full of sick, dour people dressed in black and grey. But we were without a car this week so we were walking more than usual -- and that was good. I was outside at last, and looking around more closely at the neighborhoods.
Some people still have their Christmas lights up. There are sleds on porches: the old-fashioned kind that are used for pulling children and groceries and doing errands. There are people walking around with their skates strung over their shoulders, and young men traveling to games and practices with their hockey sticks and big bags of equipment. I've seen quite a few red-and-white mittens with the letters CAN on the back: they're being sold at the Bay to benefit the Olympic team. (Blessedly, I've heard very little talk about the SuperBowl.) I wore a bright red or blue or yellow scarf every day, and ran into garden friends on the street, and met a blogger friend for coffee and another garden friend for tea, and we had other friends over for dinner last weekend... and somehow it felt like the closed-up, miserable part of winter gave way to something a lot cheerier.
I find I just have to get OUT in the winter, because it is just so damn long here - out to do things, out to feel the air on my face, out to see people. I'm not a person who has trouble with the lack of light, but it really helps that our studio, on a second floor, has large windows all along one side and is bright all day long. We bring our most sunlight-needy houseplants here in the winter, and they always thrive; in another few weeks I'll start some seeds, and the maple sap will start rising. The days are definitely getting longer, and even though it's a steady slog between now and April - a month that can still be quite cold here - there's hope, regardless of what the groundhog sees. On Sunday, Candlemas, we'll bless the candles for the year and sing about midwinter - but we're on the downward slope now.
As Epiphany draw to a close, as well as the buying season of the holidays and January sales, and the necessary year-end accounting that we small-business people must do, I feel myself starting --finally -- to look ahead. We have some studio improvement projects we hope to do; there's Jonathan's book that we plan to publish this spring, and several Phoenicia projects that are ongoing or coming up. Last night there was music for Easter in our choir folders, and we had the pleasure of singing through a Gabrielli Mass for 12 voices that we'll perform that day, with a brass choir - marvelous! Yes, Lent comes inbetween, but when Easter is late - as it is this year - it actually feels like it coincides with spring.
J. and I are hoping to do a bit of travel in warmer climes in February and March. But I really want to get back to my own drawing and painting, and perhaps even to a long piece of writing that I worked hard on two years ago. I feel like I've been going full-tilt since September, or even before: professional work, lots of singing, lots of giving-out-energy-to-others. That's been fine, but I'm aware of my emotional fatigue, even as I catch up on sleep, start exercising more regularly, cooking with more pleasure and more time, and generally doing things that are good for my physical well-being. It's time to step back, regroup, look around, and smell those elusive roses: not the Valentine kind, either -- but the ones that require care but reward us later with real fragrance. You can take that literally or not, as you wish!
Roses in my garden, June 2013 -- photo by Eric Fournel.