Meteorological winter in the Northern Hemisphere begins on December 1st, rather than the Winter Solstice. The rivers of air in the upper atmosphere take on their winter characteristics. Out in the Eastern Pacific thunderstorms rise and affect the polar jet stream. Three weeks before the darkest days of the year, the weather responds as the earth continues its annual tilting away from the sun. Cold air above us turns rain into snow.
This year we face winter in the middle of a pandemic so it is especially important to be slow, as the poet John O'Donohue bids us.
This is the time to be slow.
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
and blushed with beginning.
O'Donohue was an Irish poet and philosopher who died in 2008. According to his obituary he believed that it is within our power to transform our fear of death so that we need fear little else this life brings. The stress of modern life in the developed world he held to be the result of the absence in our lives of silence.
Since we should be mostly staying at home while we await the forthcoming vaccine his poem is full of good advice for this winter and we offer it as our present to you this December.