Here is the difference: I love winter like I love sleep. I love the quiet. I love the dreamy, ethereal qualities of the season, of the air. I focus on the fixtures: the unmoving trees, the pendulous moon, the here-and-gone frost that mirrors the glittering stars in the night. And when summer comes, I am suddenly lost. Where is my moon? Where are my bare, silent trees? Where is my quiet beauty? The leaves grow suddenly so thick that I can barely see the sky. But then the sun sinks toward the horizon, and its yellow rays mix into those green leaves, and my breath is stolen away. I am slowly, slowly coming to remember that I can't look in the summer for what I loved in the winter. In the summer the beauty and magic are in the movement, in the shockingly quick growth of the plants, in the changing landscape, rather than the spinning sky. It's in bioluminescent bugs, and in all of the animals that seem to somehow have appeared out of the ether. Where have they been? This evening I stood barefoot in the stream again, again drinking in the feeling of its coolness around my calves while Miley refreshed herself by swimming in small circles and huffing, and I was struck by the fragility of the water skaters. I was glad to see them, firstly, but (never having done a whit of research on them) I always wonder where they've come from. How could such spindly, tiny little bugs--water bugs, even--have survived such an icy winter? But it doesn't matter. They're here now.
Just as Miley and I crested the hill, the church bells up the street chimed eight, and the late afternoon sun reached over the Western trees, and gilded those standing to the East. A handful of bluejays circled the sky over the neighborhood, calling back and forth. Winter is about sleep, but I am relearning how to be awake.
I am still sneakily trying to teach Layla that all life is precious. This week we've (finally) been doing swim lessons rather than math lessons, and the design of their backyard pool is such that hapless spiders crawl up to the edge, lose their grip, and fall in. They are light enough to be able to stand on the surface tension in the water, and can often cling to floating leaves or make their way back onto the walls of the pool, but they can't make it up over the lip and back onto dry ground. We've been rescuing them when we see them, and noting those that are jumping spiders. They still make her nervous, but at least she no longer demands their deaths on sight. I'm working to warm her up to bees, but I am making less progress.