All images from Kallmünz, November 2011
Winter is upon us.
I took these photos in the town of Kallmünz during what I sense was the last true Autumn weekend of 2011.
In the recent days, the scraping of the windows in the morning has begun. The trees remain frosted late into the day (the whole day in fact, most recently), and the morning fog hangs low. This type of landscape and atmosphere beckons both preparation and contemplation.
Having grown up in States of almost perpetual summer (Southern FL, Southern CA and Hawai’i), my introduction to seasons about 15 years ago opened up literally a whole new world of weather, landscape and different effects on my rhythm, heart and mind.
And the awareness of those affects on people surrounding me.
My first introduction to Autumn was excitement all around for my senses and it has remained so ever since. From the beginning, I came to see this season as a dynamic and spinning mandala of activity that brought me straight to both the heart and edge of a certain type of living…..a certain awareness.
And that awareness was not purely enthrallment over candlelight and the scrumptiousness of squash and other harvest vegetables. Melancholy seemed to me to be part of the very joy of Autumn. The richest and most precious sort of melancholy available to the human soul.
The days grow heavier while the leaves perform quite a dramatic farewell. Here in this region, the dance of death of the leaves was, in my opinion, epic and soft. Every day, driving down the roads, there seemed to be a completely new (though subtle) spectrum of hues playing out on the trees. And on those days when the sun glinted through the canopy, the effect was really, simply magical.
Since I have come to know it, Winter to me has been a season about strengthening the mind. And a time of concentrated activity and calm. In this landscape, there is something both stark and sensual about the winter season. The crystallization in the morning world and sleepy minds turning sharp with practical activities (like scraping and shovelling and perhaps some coffee guzzling) to the rolling softness of fresh snowy days and the powder just tumbling with ease off of things.
Winter also means love to me. It is practical to be closer to your loved one when you sleep (or even closer to yourself). And rosy cheeks, mittens and cozy scarves are, in my mind, all beautiful accessories.
The most beautiful accessory, of course, for any season is something that is not put on the nightstand during sleep. Right Mind.
I had intended to write about Right Mind (an aspect in the Buddhist Eightfold Path) tonight in this post. An aspect I wake up increasingly remembering to cultivate. I allowed myself a little seasonal reflection divergence. Right Mind intentions remain and I will return…..