I’ve been in England for eleven days. Between the long list of tasks that come with taking an international trip and a full schedule of visits to friends, relatives, and events since I arrived, all wonderful, I’ve become less and less engaged, and less and less motivated to write, which was one reason I came to Yorkshire. Last night, clicking through the television channels and realizing I seriously needed a break, I cancelled today’s museum tour, took a hot bath and went to bed, then allowed myself to awaken naturally ten hours later.
The morning dawned crisp and sunny. Putting on my boots after breakfast, I stepped outside with no particular plan. I walked around the village where I am staying, ate lunch in the local refurbished woolen mill, then wandered across the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, down to the River Aire and across to Roberts Park, where my mother and father courted during World War II. I spent two hours walking in their footsteps, watching people walking with dogs, children chasing ducks, couples enjoying one another. The sunlight through the light overcast gave a golden glow to the Victorian buildings in the park, and I was fascinated by the effect. But it was also very cold. When my nose and toes became numb I entered a pub that overlooks the river, selected a chair near a window and not far from the blazing fire, and ordered a mulled wine. Today is Midwinter, the shortest day (and the longest night) of the year, and when the sun went down at 4:00 p.m. I was treated to a beautiful Yorkshire sunset.
Sipping my drink, I felt connected and peaceful. At first, I enjoyed hearing the exchanges in the northern accents of the other people in the pub, then the conversations faded into the background and I let my mind go where it would. Ideas started to flow. Scenes appeared in my head. My characters began to talk. When I finally walked back to my cottage, I was clear headed and energetic. It was as if I had taken a long vacation. I couldn’t wait to start writing.
After a productive evening, I checked my email from home. My oldest daughter, Doña Bumgarner, writes a blog for mothers, and I often enjoy reading it, so when I saw her link to a new post, I clicked on it. As she so often does, she had written wise words for the season. Midwinter night, or the Winter Solstice, has been celebrated for thousands of years with celebrations, feasts, and prayers for rebirth. After a review of those facts, and a description of some of the ways she has marked this day in the past, Doña wrote: “To me, this dark space, this between time, feels like it holds magic. It is a dream time, when new intentions can be set, new dreams can be manifest, new directions can be chosen. It is a time when I can hit the reset button and enter the new year with a clean slate.”
She described exactly what I had experienced today, and helped me to understand its meaning. I had reset my year. I stared at the screen and smiled, across an ocean and a continent from my insightful daughter, and yet through the magic of technology she was here with me. If you are feeling a bit of overload as we approach Christmas, Doña may also help you find some strategies for resetting your mood. I encourage you to give it a try. To read her complete post, point your browser to Nurtured Mama.