Looking for the Light

1st November

Winter descends with a hurling wind and sideways rain. The sun still just about warms my bones- when I can find it – and the wind whips hair across my face. I am gloomy. Too much grief, too much uncertainty and change. Way too many losses. In a way it does not help that two days ago it was t shirt weather, people sitting outside cafes, dogs relaxing at their feet. Warm in an unreal, heady, not sure what is happening way. Of course, we said, we know it cannot last. Any delay to the onset of winter though is most welcome. So today feels shocking.

The horses are already paddling in mud. The stable yard flooding. I am tired just thinking about what is to come. After a social media prompt, I gladly turn to reread Horatio Clare’s The Light in the Dark- a winter journal. Published in 2018, I now read it most winters. Horatio’s atmospheric prose adds a beauty to the often-painful events he relates and takes us along on his journey to find a solution to the winter blues. Both challenging and enlightening, and most importantly hopeful, it is a beacon in the dark.

And at least you know you are not alone.

In his prologue he highlights the challenge

“It is not fair to blame the winter, but it does set the stage so well, with its clamped down rains, its settled and introverted darkness, its mean ration of light, its repetitions.”  [1]

I find myself almost shouting “yes.” This me, who is often stir crazy by 5.30 pm, restless against the confinement of the darkness and cold. Tired of TV, of damp and wet, of muddy dogs and dirty houses, of changing boots. Constantly changing boots, and coats. Tired also of being tired and not having the energy to change any of that.

He highlights how he will, this time, arm himself against the onslaught of depression.

“Depression kills your power of vision, turning you fatally towards yourself, but I will practice looking, and looking outwards like an exercise, as though I am training for an expedition.”[2]

This year I determine to write my own journal. Not just write, but also practice looking for the joy, practice turning towards the light in the dark. Practice noticing. It will not be as eloquent or literary as Horatio’s, for sure. In writing I hope to also encourage the noticing. Looking. Not sinking. It will also enable me to have a reason to practice my writing, honing my words, finding ways that they may become relevant to others. With my own more mundane voice, the everyday nature of my reality and experiences, my own thoughts.

Horatio’s winter journal will be my reminder, my guide, my assistance to not sink, my prompt to look outwards, to savour, and to seek out experiences that refresh the soul.

Even in winter.

[1] Horatio Clare. The light in the dark

[2] Ditto


winter sunset – source of light.