A wet December day makes me feel like curling up in an afghan, with a cup of hot tea and a good children's book. I did that last night with Moominland Midwinter, by Tove Jansson. It's the story of Moomintroll's extraordinary wakening from his winter hibernation and his discovery of the winter world in Finland.
It's a fun little book, with some wise words on living in the moment and not longing for the summer that is past or the spring that is to come. It brightened my winter day. I pulled it off the shelf in part because earlier in the day I was reminded of one of the incidental characters in the story -- the little squirrel who thinks of himself as "the squirrel with the marvellous tail."
The midmorning coffee klatch at the birdfeeder included the usual crowd of sparrows, a cardinal or two, and a couple of squirrels. They looked like they might well think of themselves as "the squirrel with the marvellous tail." And they were every bit as flighty as the book's squirrel, an absent-minded and foolish fellow who comes to a sad end, freezing to death when he meets the Lady of the Cold, in the deep midwinter freeze. Or does he?
"[Moomintroll] hardly turned his head as a small squirrel jumped across his path.
"Happy spring," said the squirrel, absent-mindedly.
"Well, thanks," replied Moomintroll and continued on his way. But all at once he stopped short and stared at the squirrel. It had a big and bushy tail that shone red in the sunset.
"Do people call you the squirrel with the marvellous tail?" Moomintroll asked slowly.
"Of course," said the squirrel.
"Is it you?" cried Moomintroll. "Is it really you? Who met the Lady of the Cold?"
"I don't remember," said the squirrel. "You know, I'm not very bright at remembering things."
And while Moomintroll has more questions, we're left with mystery. And a squirrel who thinks of himself as "the squirrel with the marvellous tail." And two more who may be curled up in a nest in the neighbor's maple tree right now, wrapped up in their tails, keeping warm.
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.