Winter has begun.
This morning, pulling in the folds of my coat as I walked to work, I was braced not only by the chill of the air but by the beauty of the bare trees that line the paths. There’s something elegant, mesmerising, about the naked branches of a tree that reach up against the blue of the morning sky.
There’s much about this season that’s challenging. We instinctively retreat. We might assume beauty goes dormant until brighter times. Yet the trees remind us otherwise.
The English farmer-poet Philip Britts knew this. Back in 1936, in a place much colder than mine, he said it beautifully.
Upon a Hill in the Morning
The timid kiss of the winter sun,
The waiting faith of the naked trees,
The breath of the day so well begun,
Take what you will and leave me these.
Leave me my love and leave me these,
Leave me a soul to feel them still,
Better to be a tramp, who sees,
Than a monarch blind upon a hill.