Almanac

January is a waltz between a warm den and the bleak and frigid landscape.

Inside, movement is unhurried, ritualistic. The fire crackles. The gentle cadence of the cat lapping water is a dreamy incantation. You drift into the kitchen. Creaky floorboards spill their secrets in your wake.

From the deep silence of this winter morning, each sound is its own poem. Even the coffee has a pulse, cascading from dripper to mug like a dark and fragrant river. The rhythmic clanking of sugar spoon against ceramic mimics rustic wind chimes. A plume of steam dances like a risen cobra.

Outside, dawn slowly breaks. A lonely titmouse greets the day. No need to rush. Trust. You’ll know when it’s time to leave the den.

Whether you’re walking to the car or the woodshed or a mile down the road, you are ready for a sacred pilgrimage. Days like today, when the air stings like nettle, invisible treasure is afoot: silence for deep listening; stillness for the same; nothingness to spark discovery.

As your feet drum against the frozen earth, consider the world that sleeps below: the dormant roots and seeds, the creatures cozy in their burrows. And when the soft light kisses your windburned face, consider the sun, ceaselessly rising, ceaselessly giving of its warmth. Consider how you are both — the dreamer and the rising sun.

January gives you what you need. The wind sweeps through what’s still here and the titmouse sings out. You hum a few shaky notes, unearth buried treasure on the long waltz home.

All That Simmers

The new year calls for a fresh start. Or at least a fragrant simmer pot. Creating a stovetop potpourri can be a fun and soothing ritual. Start with a pot of water. Consider what you’d like to invoke: brightness (lemon slices), warmth (cinnamon sticks) or clarity (rosemary sprigs)?

There are very few rules.

Bring the water to a boil. Add your ingredients. Reduce the potion to a simmer. Enjoy.

Allow this aromatic blend to work its healing magic on your space for up to several hours — but be sure to add more water as needed.

 

Winter should not be considered as only negation and destruction. It is a secret and inward working of powers, which in spring will burst into visible activity.

—Henry James Slack,
The Ministry of the Beautiful

 

New Year’s Dip

In the Netherlands, thousands plunge into the icy waters of the North Sea each year on New Year’s Day.

Doesn’t a warm bath sound better?

And on January 4 — in the dark, earliest hours — a celestial shower.

This year, thanks to a sylph of a crescent moon, conditions look good for the annual Quadrantids, a spectacle known to light up the night sky with up to 40 brilliant meteors per hour.

Bundle up. Bring hot tea. Make a wish.

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