I'm walking home, striding in my docs on a thin dusting of snow, and warm in my fake fur hat. I feel alive and in the world.
The air is so clear, sunshine rests on the tongue, teasing the palate with its delicious weightlessness. From the top of the hill near the church, the street rolls down toward the sea and the sea rolls up to meet it. Houses line the road and curve with the hill, as if dominoes mathematically positioned to hold each other’s weight. The wind is cold, but snow-covered mountains glint across the sea and the horizon burns. The city’s cross-section opens to the sky and the sky descends to eat; the city’s pores open to receive and their dark corners are blasted clean by a light so cold, a snowflake crystal couldn’t hold it. The atmosphere is blue and numb, transparent as oxygen, colourless as ice, yet tinged with shades of arctic.
A mixture of fatigue and depression have entwined in my body and mind in the last three years. They combine differently on different days and produce a range of new and innovative challenges to overcome. Their recent cocktail of choice has notes of listless apathy, a palate of crushing nothingness and a finish of dull hopelessness. Nothing surprises, nothing moves, nothing gets through to my numbed brain.
Today though, I feel. I exist. I walk. I see. My body moves through the seasons along with the globe it walks on.
The mind develops strategies to cope with an overwhelming array of options, excitements, stresses, people. One method is to develop a thick skin, a cushion and insulation against the world. Every now and again, though, be sure to seek out the cracks in that skin; open a window, let in the light. Note to self: the armour that protects can also be the armour that imprisons.
Descending the hill to home, I slip on a sheen of snow. My heart shoots to my mouth, my limbs flail, but I catch myself before I fall. I laugh. At myself, at the beauty of the morning, at the vulnerability it allowed me to feel.
A 22° halo forms around the sun, replete with "sun-dogs"/parhelia on either side. Photo taken a day after the above account, with a similar clarity of air. I describe seeing sun-dogs and a 22° halo in this blog post, noting why they form as well as a potential explanation of their name.
Copyright © Jack Threlfall Hartley 2020