The winter solstice. A thin day. A liminal day. The one where we start to return to light. Soon enough, if you’re perfectly still, you’ll start to feel the tiny vibrations of new buds — the coming of spring — but not before at least another month of crystal cold mornings.
Miles and I were in the garden all afternoon, moving dirt from where the old roses were to where our little apple orchid will grow. We dismantled an old garden bed made of weathered railway sleepers, ready to be re-used as the the orchard’s retaining wall. Surprisingly few discoveries in the dirt there, which had been undisturbed for at least a decade. There was one little lizard hibernating in a spike hollow. Some ghostly mushrooms too, hidden entirely underground, long, thin, delicate, almost transulscent, almost bioluminescent. I’ve read widely on soil, I’ve seen so many pictures, cross sections, I’ve held it in my hands countless times but you can only really start to fully understand soil by digging into it. You have to feel it in your arms and your back, its physical body sensed by moving through topsoil to clay to rock. You have to smell its rich, peaty aromas hanging in the still air of night to truly understand what it’s made of. You must watch the magpies and bowerbirds come to pick over what has been unearthed – they see the things that we cannot, and it is only through them that we can learn about what lives inside the loam.
We were deep into our work when suddenly the day was over. I had my head down for so long and when I did look up at the sky I saw a a pink contrail arching all the way over to the horizon, with pure winter darkness consuming it from the east. The last evening of the year that will be over so quickly.
In two days it will be Miles second birthday. On the day he was born it snowed. I will never forget the feeling of looking out onto the whiteness everywhere from our hospital window, holding this tiny creature in my arms, standing on the precipice between my old life and my new one. His eyes were so dark then. For the longest time they were icy blue, the eyes of a winter baby. Now they are a grey blue with tiny little fissures of green and gold, like rivers of experience and understanding starting to flow, coloured by chloroyphyl and sandstone and clouds, this place embeded within him, molecules exchanged with these mountains.
I think my strongest memory of this time will be the sounds of the glaze separating from the clay on Chloe’s new cups. Ever so small crystalline expositions. The pops of glass mirroring tiny changes in the atmosphere. The perfect soundtrack to these days of frosted lawns and clear blue skies.