For out ancestors, winter mast have seemed like a near-death; the sun was distant and weak, unable to warm earth or air, unable to hold back the night; trees wept leaves like tears; plants melted into the earth, inert beneath frozen or sodden ground; birds flew away; animals hibernated or migrated. The only vivacious sign of life flourishing in the land whilst all else wasted, was the evergreens. No wonder they became a beacon of hope, a symbol of endurance and survival. No wonder people brought them into their homes as a reminder of better times.
You may not have been aware of it, but a few months ago, a mighty battle took place. It has been happening every year since time began. And though you didn’t know it, you will have felt the consequences; how slowly, slyly, the shadow of night encroached upon the day and stole its light; how the sun hurried across the sky as if it couldn’t bear to look; how Summer’s warmth faded from the air, sucking with it all life from the earth, and all that was green and vibrant with health shriveled and died. It was as if everything that was good in the world withdrew, leaving behind only grey skies and hardship, and an uncertain future.
The Oak King had fought his battle, and lost. Holly, the victorious conqueror, stalked the land while the days stumbled toward their darkest hour.
For the robin, no perch here.
Across the field
mournful cattle low.
Too cold, the dark end of the year.
Soft hues of Eire
earth-brown, grass-green, sky-blue,
overcome by stark monochrome.