One of the ways we mark the seasons here in the country is by the angle and color of the light. It is a reminder of change and renewal.
Today the light is coming from a noticeably higher angle. There is more moisture in it than in the cold days of deep winter, and that, too, changes the quality of the light. Spring isn’t here yet, not even a little bit, but the changing light is a promise.
Our house is long and narrow. The long face is toward the south, which accounts for the changing angle of light inside. Every room receives the sun from the southern sky. At this time of year it reaches across the rooms, touching the far walls briefly in the traverse from east to west; another reminder of change, of time moving on.
It isn’t only the day sky that tells us the seasons. When I go out after dark and look up at the black sky, I mark the place of the moon, of stars, of constellations like Orion in the sky directly above me or a little to the east. Before bed, when I make one more check on the fire in the outdoor furnace, I also make one more check on the stars and moon. By then all has shifted, more to the west, and I know the world is in its place, that we are in ours, and morning will come.
Living as we do, where we see more sky and sun and stars than do people who live in light-distracting cities, we are in a closer relationship with the heavens, with the earth, with trees and animals small and large. We understand how we are connected to all of those signs of the living planet.
When we step out in the first hour of light, the dogs and I step into the living space of animals small and large, of birds living in trees and in ground nests, and we greet the new day with them. If there has been snow (and there has been – briefly), I can follow the tracks of rabbits and deer and bear that live in the shadows surrounding the house.
Any morning I can see where the deer have bedded down for the night, what game trails they have followed on the leaf-covered ridges and undergrowth bordering our fields. The dogs pick up the scent and markings of our wild neighbors and often dash off in search of playmates.
There is still winter ahead. Still firewood to work up, perhaps even snow to remove. The weather, though, is cooperating by freezing at night and rising to the 40s and 50s in the daytime, making our local maple syrup producers happy. In a month we will welcome the thousands of visitors who come here to sample the “sugaring off,” and our local foods and crafts.
So the light shifts, the earth turns, the seasons arrive and depart on schedule (nature’s, not ours) and another year is given us.
It is the light that leads us on.