Lady Tatsuta, the Japanese goddess of the Autumn, has gone to sleep. Today is the winter solstice: her bedtime.
Ochre, siena and umber are the colours of the leaves; those that are still attached to the branches. Such lovely words for these colours. I favour this earthy palette most, though soon and already its drabness signals change, deep rest, a hiatus from lively colour.
The unseasonably warm weather has made for a long fall, but Lady Tatsuta is sinking ever earthward bound, her eyes now, childlike, resistant, flickering shut. Darkness is upon us, even while we’re entering the light here at solstice. Winter, such as it is, pulls her down. She must sleep.
Nature offers us a seed of light now. We, though, in our animal natures, are drawn to a certain hibernation. I thought about Advent peaking as the light of the world arrives in the dark at the very season when kindling and light is most needed. The seed we receive now grows with slow attention into a quickening, but that is a story for another time. There are depths yet to be plumbed for us in the Northern hemisphere.
As the cold grows and the darkness thickens, the perfume of the mulch begins to rise in the wild, unkempt, precious spaces, a sharp, bitter and unfailingly pleasing seasonal incense. The bamboo remains profuse, wildly abundant, quite unfazed by the turn of the sun. I noticed an enormous clump stream- side on a walk: oh, noble weed of ten thousand good uses.
The green curtain formed a backdrop to the remaining persimmons, natural Christmas lighting, perched on their skeletal frames. An imperceptible twitch made me look twice at one fruit. All at once I realised that was no fruit! It was a kingfisher, its wings tucked tightly in, its orange breast fluffed out, enjoying a brief moment of very amusing camouflage. The longer I stood, the more it began to fidget until it burst into a blaze of flight and disappeared down into the thickets. I heard it giggle.
I thought indeed, there is laughter at the heart of things. This bright orange insight arrived on rather a downhearted and exhausted afternoon as I, like Lady Tatsuta, flicker toward the year end rest.