Archive for the ‘Island Year’ Category

Winter’s Gifts

Posted on: January 12th, 2018 by PennyGill No Comments

It is deep and dark and cold.  Lake Superior is gamely trying to create an ice road for us, as the ferry stopped running ten days ago and we scramble now with a remarkable Wind Sled.  Not for the faint of heart, but the older children take it each day to school on the mainland. The ice road signals freedom.

Day after day I shelter more deeply in this solitude and silence.  Doing retreats in favor of being. Like the other big mammals, I have surrendered to the pull of the season, like gravity – forces we rarely are so privileged that we can recognize them.

I’ve been reading Rebecca Solnit, and came across a beautiful essay, Woolf’s Darkness.  Here is Solnit quoting Woolf in To the Lighthouse:

“For now she need not think about anybody.  She could be herself, by herself.  And that was what now she often felt the need of – to think, well, not even to think.  To be silent; to be alone.  All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated, and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others.  Although she continued to knit, and sat upright, it was thus that she felt herself, and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.  When life sank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless. . . . Beneath it is all dark, it is all spreading, it is unfathomably deep; but now and again we rise to the surface and that is what you see us by.  Her horizon seemed to her limitless.”

There is deep sanity in all this.  Give yourself a taste before the days get too long!

Down the Spiral: Winter is Here

Posted on: December 11th, 2017 by PennyGill No Comments

We are hunkered down now, chased in by several powerful storms.  The winter chores are done: wood is in. Windows are tightened against gale force winds.  Food is stocked in pantries and freezers.  The island is now in the capable hands of the veteran year-rounders, and that is a delight to explore and savor.  Main Street is empty and silent.  The woods are silent too, except for an owl calling out to her companion, and a pileated woodpecker working away this morning.  Even the deer, now that the hunting season is over, are settling down in the most protected thickets.  Super Moon last week. Advent now. Solstice – the shortest day of the year – approaches swiftly.  It feels like the Original Silence, and I am sliding down the Dark Spiral at the very heart of all things.  Blessings to each of you, as your life and the life of our fragile planet lean towards the light.

Squirreling Away

Posted on: October 16th, 2017 by PennyGill No Comments

It is deep fall. I watch we two-leggeds mimic the geese and ducks, the deer and the bear, and the squirrels. Like the migrating birds, our seasonal resident island friends have packed up their SUV’s and headed south to their other lives. The island is strangely quiet, except for chain saws bringing down standing dead wood and the work trucks on the dirt road trying to get the foundations poured, the driveways repaired, and roofs tightened up before the first serious frost. Like the deer, we are fattening up – at least our pantries – and like the bears, we are taking care of our winter dens. My cupboards are bursting, and I’m wondering if I should make a list, lest I lose track, like so many squirrels. These are relentless instincts in all of us, to make ready for the long, dark winter. It is irresistible, and following its lead gives such satisfaction. I’ve been wondering what that is, that satisfaction: the relief of living out my animal life so much more fully and so easily, with so little mental organizing, just following that deep purpose of securing life and well being. Deep ease in all of this, deep ease.  And so much to learn!