"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

19 November 2011

In Pendleton's Shadow

And then there comes the day when sun's rays, peeping over the southern ridge line of Mount Pendleton, do not chase away the long cold shadows of winter. It is as unavoidable as day and night. Part of the cycle. The long dark, which lasts until deep, midwinter, has begun.

I, for one, welcome the perpetual mountain shadow and borderline seasonal-affective disorder. Much in the same way, sometime in the very latest days of autumn, I start to look forward to the longest night, marking the winter solstice. Why? Because it means there's that much less time before the sunlight returns and our little place beyond the end of the the world will warm once more.

Sabina finds this rational irrational, and gives me a look as though I have descended into the type of madness spiced with psychosis, instead of the happy kind, flavored with whimsy. But, I have seen her praise the first day of winter, much like I have, under the auspice of the days beginning to lengthen once more. Sometimes, there is even a smile on her face because of the fact.

For us, winter means fewer walkabouts. Sometimes, it is just too cold, no matter the layers, or the winds whipping down from the high peaks and mountain passes are that of the great maelstroms, which have leveled coastal cities without a by or leave. Out there, in the bush, the danger of an avalanche can be much more intimidating than the thought of some other half-starved predator looking for an easy mark.

That is when we hole up with a fire. We have mulled wine or hot tea. Those are the days when we might play more African or reggae music and have a more tropical-flavored meal, in blatant defiance of the season all around us. Fun times.

It is effectively winter in our little Sahel and has been for nearly a month now. I do not foresee the snow melting from the high peaks and north-facing slopes anytime soon. In our funky little township, the dusty streets have become quiet, and the river starts to freeze over. The last of the seasonal residents have fled to their warmer climbs, only to return with the trill of hummingbirds and the whistle of the train engine as it echos across the valley.

Mei fei tsu. This is the way of things. The snow. The long dark. It is unavoidable as the one star visible during the day and the billions visible during the night.

I accept and embrace these aspects of the cycle. After all, it's a matter of balance. Like fire and water, chocolate and peanut butter, one cannot exist without the other. It's not only weakness to try and deny the existence of one of these aspects, but also kind of boring. A lesson I learned myself long, long ago. I take in the long dark and winter with a bit of a death's head cheshire cat's grin, perhaps a sign of that madness Sabina occasionally worries about in me.

It's okay, though. See, I know things. One thing I know quite well is a bit sooner than a bit ago, the light will return and our little place beyond the end of the world will start to warm once more.


  1. There I was being pulled into a near trance-like state by your hypnotic words, and then you have to throw something in there like "chocolate and peanut butter, one cannot exist without the other" and of course my brain snaps back into harsh reality and I have to call bullshit on that. Of course peanut butter can exist without chocolate, but what, then, would be its purpose?

  2. The fact it would have no purpose without chocolate shows that peanut butter requires it in order to exist. And the darker the better.

    So there...

  3. I enjoyed this post so much that I mentioned it over at my place.

  4. hmmm chocolate and peanut butter CAN be mutually exclusive however they are to me the yin and yang of two food groups i tend to mix nuttela with my p butter...
    i found this over at dicky's blog..v funny stuff...ill be back!

  5. Oh, if you must split hairs, peanut butter, and peanuts in general, are a big constituent in sub-Saharan/western African cooking...but why split hairs?