Mandarin tree, early January.
It's the dead of winter and yet the day is mild, clear and bright. A warmish breeze gently rattles the last of the leaves in the gutters and all my cozy hearth tendencies are confused and in a muddle. A big part of me still wants to crank up the oven and fill it with loaves of bread and casseroles and clutter the stovetop with slow simmering stews and sauces even as I throw open the windows and hunt for my sunglasses. Instead of a day spent huddled in blanket by the stove, reading dense and difficult novels while stirring the polenta, it looks like I'll be packing cold sandwiches and tangerines and taking a walk in the park. Without a jacket. In January.
Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It's just interesting to see how deep into winter-mode I've gone and despite the beauty of the day, how difficult it is to pull myself away. I appreciate and desperately need my burrowing-in time right now, especially after all the glitter and clamor of the holidays. I like the thin, pale days of January when the silence and stillness really settles in. I like those dense and difficult novels and wooly sweaters and stews enriched with mushrooms and bacon fat. I crave cold, rainy days where I have to stay home, steaming up the kitchen window with simmering stocks and roasted roots. I want to stop all the running around and just hunker down for a while.
But the lure of a bright sunny day is impossible to ignore and as someone who works from home, it's doubly important for me to get out into some fresh air now and then. So it's roast turkey sandwiches with spicy arugula and cumberland mayo (garlic and currant jam mixed into Hellman's) shoved into a pack, followed by a wedge of cheddar, some almonds and tangerines, and the last of the Christmas cookies. It's hot black tea brewed into a thermos, splashed with milk and sealed up tight. Then it's rooting out the walking boots from the cupboard and pulling on a few layers of light clothing. Sunglasses, a thin novel, some music. Notebook, pen, a few dollars in my pocket and then out the door and into the bright, bright sunshiny day.
I cross the street and I pass beneath a mandarin orange tree, which is still bearing fruit even while new blossoms are starting to pop out. They release a scent, powerfully sweet, that feel ticklish and a little thrilling. A neighbor has left a crate of free books on her front porch worthy of pawing through and further down the hill I run into an old friend, someone I haven't seen in a while, and we pause for a nice chat.
Maybe this getting out isn't so bad after all.
Related: Weekend Meditation: Broken
(Image: Dana Velden)