Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Nights Are Drawing In . . .

There's a phrase that Brits use in October when the days are getting noticeably shorter: "The nights are drawing in."

The other day the sun broke through the heavy fog that is typical of this time of year. It seemed to slip along the ribbon of the horizon, as if the dark had opened for only a few hours before drawing its purse-string and concealing the light once more.

The leaves have mostly fallen; the air is dank and smells of rotting vegetation, wood fires. I miss the smell of spruce, so I bought some Christmas potpourri that wasn't too sweet and has a cinnamon edge to it. I miss Alaskan spruce ale that's sold this time of year: the first year they made it, it was really spruce-y; then they moderated it a bit...

The Christmas rush has begun in earnest: shops are filled to bursting and next weekend is the festival of lights in Oxford. The little shopping I have to do is done except for food and I can ignore it all and hunker down for the duration. 

I haven't heard an Advent hymn yet, but the newspapers have started publishing their 'how to survive Christmas' articles. I'm glad that there are people who enjoy Yule, whether or not they follow the religious rituals, which mostly they don't, not even a lot of the churches, which are lost in sentimentality and a 'relevance' that is utterly irrelevant.

Those rituals are still alive, part of the wonder that still dwells in the hidden place of the heart, inside the drawn purse-string of the dark of the year.


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