The wind and the rain have come to Londres today, and also a flash of blue sky and sun. Winter has already stripped back the trees to bare frames, but that does not fill me with sadness as it does some. The exposed tree reveals itself in a different form, an incredible three-dimensional shape woven into the sky. Winter gives us a different view, and if it sometimes feels like retreat, well, life strips you back from time to time. Our engagement with the world goes in phases, and sometimes the winds of life blow off every leaf. We stand cold and naked, whipped by wind and cracked by frost. But the winter of the soul also has its uses. Who are we? Where are we going? Who is important to us? Sometimes it is easy to forget to wonder about these things in the course of an average day. Winter forces it upon us, forces us to wonder again. It is an uncomfortable process, but if we aren’t scared of wondering, it is a chance to re-assess, to be more conscious of what we are doing.
When we look at trees we should look beyond the obvious. Below the ground the trees are often grafted to each other, or at least tied together by networks of mycelium. Nor do they simply stand in soil, as we might think; they are part of the soil, they give and take from it. Soil is a living process, it cannot be separated from trees, plants, bugs, bacteria, fungi, nematodes. Trees sustain us, and that is the same as saying that soil sustains us.
Being honest, a short winter is fine. What always gets us down is a winter that goes on too long. Lately I have been lucky to only suffer short winters, but nobody can deny there will be other long winters to come. For the climatic winter, there’s always Cuba. For our own winters we have each other. That has to be enough.