The Dark Time

gray skies of winter
go completely unnoticed
by slumbering trees

Years ago, more than two decades now, I moved from Flint, Michigan, to the Syracuse, New York area. One of my first impressions of Central New York was that it must be the secret graveyard of clouds. Clouds in a monochromatic gray scale seemed to migrate in from all directions, converging overhead to slowly dissipate as the next group of terminally ill clouds came in from parts unknown. All this final traveling of the clouds also does a damned good job of blocking out the sun.

The lack of direct sunlight at this time of year gives me a hard time. I am in need of sunlight, and am grateful that I work outdoors every day, as this job gives me the maximum sunlight available. Some vitamin D3 supplements help, too. My doctor told me some years ago that the average person has a vitamin D level of around 80 out of a possible 100. The average Central New Yorker has a vitamin D level of around 35. Thanks a lot, clouds.

I was thinking about the trees the other day as I sat in my truck, getting a load of corn. They get to take a nap all winter long. They don’t notice the endless expanse of gray overhead or the inevitable blanket of waist-deep snow for which this area is so famous. The winds blow and birds alight on their naked branches and no notice is given.

At first I was a bit envious, wishing that I, too, could sleep until the warmth of the ground roused me. But, I thought, isn’t the variety of experience the thing that gives me inspiration to write? The very nature of haiku is to express one’s direct experience of the environment one is immersed in. If I were to sleep through the winters I would miss out on months and months and months (winter here seems to be endless…) of moments that ask to be preserved.

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