Sunday, January 6, 2008


There is a dark side to our landscape of islands that calls most strongly in this winter season of wet cloudy short days and long nights of somber dreams. Long past is the expansive glow of flaming sunsets painting throngs of islands and glittering waterways with garlands of bright colours. Now grey seas toss sullenly under grey skies and flash white surf against black cliffs topped by forests of sober green. This island world makes time for its serious side to pace abroad and show its face.
Some of us islanders head south for more sunshine at this time of year Why not pile summer atop summer: an endless life of sunshine to keep our spirits bright. It seems a great idea if one can afford it and yet, if nature has a dark and stormy side, are we not missing developing an important aspect of our own nature if we skip out when darkness falls?
Summer too, can have its own dark side. The sunset that tints the world in golden light can twist so that the colours are just too sweet, the red arbutus bark too strident. The seagulls lonely calls can have a weird tone in the shadowy bay behind the brightly lit headland. Here the dark tide swirls high among the driftwood logs that are tumbled like bones high on the beach. To stumble on this nightmare unexpectedly on a summers evening can be more unsettling by far than meeting the dark in its own winter season.
The winter is serious, dark and stormy but it gives fair warning that we must harmonize our mood with its or, catching us in a momentary loss of focus, while boating perhaps, it will suck us down. Unlike the shadowy nightmare mood of summer though, the winter landscape is very straight forward and so, cautiously, I trust it more. I have come to respect tones of grey and muted greens both in the landscape and within myself.

To go in the dark with a light is to
Know the light.
To know the dark, go dark.
Go without sight, and find that the dark too,
Blooms and sings,
And is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
Wendell Berry.

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