Advent calendar 2: the tree in winter

‘The wet dawn inks are doing their blue dissolve.
On their blotter of fog the trees
Seem a botanical drawing.’
– Sylvia Path from Winter Trees

Today’s image: The tree

Sylvia Plath‘s poem Winter Trees, like others in the collection of the same name, describes a contest between darkness and light. I particularly love that metaphor: ‘On their blotter of fog’ that is the dawn sky. Later in the poem, Plath describes how the trees ‘grow memories \ ring on ring’. Each year, a fresh layer of tissue, an additional skin, providing them with layers of invulnerability, gathering knowledge whilst not prone to the suffering of every-day human pains.

In literature, and in culture and folklore, trees are commonly symbols of life, fertility and growth, of steadfast wisdom, of might, and of prosperity. They take on almost divine characteristics. There is the money tree; the tree of life. They feature as religious symbols. There is the tree of enlightenment. In the Christian tradition, there are prayer trees and, of course, the Christmas tree, evergreen and everlasting, and an evolution of hanging prayers and offerings upon branches.

Swans adding to the monochrome and sepia of this scene

Yet in winter, without their deciduous foliage, trees seem to represent not burgeoning and abundance, but rather a waiting; they are all stillness and stasis. Their branches have become stark and seem etched against the pale skies, much like, as in Plath’s poem, botanical drawings, revealing to us their essential form.

Today, during this quiet, we often speak of a ‘winter reset’, an opportunity, whilst the world (or, at least, our respective hemisphere of it) is at rest, to recharge and reset body and mind – though the body element of this will generally come after the seasonal festivities.

Reset can be done in many ways. As I mentioned in my previous post and first Advent posting, a natural introvert, I myself am aiming to use Blogmas to re-start my blogging habits.

Let’s hope that before too long in the new year, we will all be able to emerge from our separate cocoons into spring light.

What about you – is winter a time to reset your clock, or to retreat from darkness? Does the season energize or drain you?

Pictures
The snaps I took on a recent walk on the Bingley St Ives Estate.

16 thoughts on “Advent calendar 2: the tree in winter

  1. Nice pics. I’m always tireder when it gets dark early 😴

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    1. Though I like winter, me too! Days are really short here in UK, evidently it gets us out of sync with the circadian rhythms.

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  2. I do like the ‘quiet damp’ of the winter garden, when lots of stuff has been cleared away ( leaving my insect hotels etc. ) restful after greens and bright colours of summer.

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    1. Great observation – like that sense of nature taking a breather. Note after reading this comment – get an insect hotel!

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      1. My insect hotels are just piles of sticks tucked away in the corner with the compost bins; also with portals for hedgehogs, but they never come!

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        1. That reminds me of a birdhouse my son proudly made when he was younger. It looks great, but alas no nesting birds. Think we’ve positioned it wrong. Wildlife are rightly cautious.

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  3. There is something about trees… I think every schoolchild in America learned Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” poem–I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…”

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    1. That poem has some lovely images, such a good starter for children. I like how the tree is anthropomorphised.

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  4. I enjoyed reading this post. And I love what you have to say about trees as keepers of wisdom. I live in the southeastern US, and I actually find I’m a little more active outdoors during the fall and winter, as opposed to the “dog days of summer,” when the heat and humidity are sometimes prohibitive.

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    1. Thank you. Interesting, I lived a few years in the Arabian Gulf and it was the same – all summer we dodged the heat, winter was for getting outside while the opportunity was available.

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  5. Always love reading your posts. Yes, trees always intrigue me. and in a story setup, it does wonder

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    1. Thank you so much. Trees look so wise somehow, as if they’re silently keeping an age-old secret.

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      1. True my friend. There are tree which has seen many generation behind us. Isn’t that fascinating

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        1. Yes, I look at the great Banyan in fascination, cannot help personifying it and thinking of what it’s witnessed.

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  6. mmm, love the mention about the tree (Sylvia’s) 💙 I think, the winter is the season when I’m doing most of my writing… in summer – I’m usually editing-publishing-reading-researching, but rarely writing.

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