January usually finds me hibernating in cold, rainy weather, my heater turned up, while I wait for warmer days. But this first month of 2014 is different — daytime temperatures are in the 70s, we have had no rain, and 62 percent of California has been classified as under “extreme drought”. On my morning hikes, I walk in sunlight, beneath redwoods and oaks, my feet kicking up dust on trails that should be muddy. Red tail hawks soar, their piercing cries echoing above the canyons. Blue jays and sparrows scuttle through dry leaves, and squirrels leap from tree to tree in a daring acrobatic dance. A coyote crossed in front of me today as I drove down the hill to my office, not even in a hurry.
It is quiet outside, as if the year is not quite awake, a time to read poetry and essays, and feel the winter days slowing me down, a time to breathe more deeply and choose seeds to plant in spring. Each night brings a chill, not like the polar vortex the East Coast experienced, but California cold under a black velvet sky that sends shivers of stars to rest beside the waning moon.
For years I hated January, impatient for longer days when I could wear sandals on my feet. Now I savor this time of hibernation, allowing new ideas to rise, and like a winter cape, wrap me in serenity.
We sat side by side in the morning light & looked out at the future together.