art : nature : words
Indoor and Outdoor Art Therapist
Indoor and Outdoor Art Therapist
In February, the long wait of Winter continues and we may be challenged by difficult feelings. However, by the end of the month we see the first signs of hope in the emergence of the Snowdrops. Whilst January was possessed of foggy mornings and cold crisp days; a change to the weather has brought us more wet and windy weather.
The deluges seem to quickly overwhelm the gutters and lie about in sullen, grey pools. Everything slows, commutes become a soggy trudge and our world closes in behind smeary windows. (Perhaps the only charm is watching the erratic earth-bound race between two rain drops). This is the sort of weather that really tests our patience. Despite being bogged down in dreary work-day commutes, there are plenty of apps providing guided meditations to ease our passage. (Insight Timer is particularly good).
In wet weather like this it is a challenge to connect with the great outdoors. However, with the right sort of clothing and an eye on the weather forecast, we can venture out under grey skies for hour-or-so. Wetland areas, ponds and lakes can be a source of inspiration—watching the bird-life that seems oblivious to rain.
We are taught from an early age that water will run and collect and the lowest point it can find. With this in mind, even sodden days can allow us to deepen our appreciation of the landscape around us. Collections of water sometimes defy understanding as to their choice of destination. Observing the water-filled dips and hollows can inform us of the subtleties of how the land is shaped.
The slide of water into the lowest points can be a potent metaphor for our mood in rain-sodden times. Our darker thoughts seem to accumulate, find no external release as engaging with nature becomes more of a challenge.
The long wait of Winter really begins to test us in maintaining our inner spark. Towards the end of the month we become short-tempered—our fiery frustrations hammered out against February’s bitter-cold anvil. Poorly-tempered, we wonder if we will survive till Spring. It is now that we have tested out our resolve, our mettle. We are quicker to temper with our loved ones and sometimes loose sight of why we are with them. However, part of developing our emotional maturity is the capacity not to act on our impulses, like the long wait of Winter we must hold on to our patience. If anger, often stored in the body, needs to be released, then through throwing stones into icy water can be a cathartic act – especially if it combined with a heartfelt curse. (Indeed, the human body is wonderfully designed to sling objects—a characteristic evolved for hunting millions of years ago).
Anger sometimes cries out for immediate release, at others it is worth storing – using it as the energy of change. It will test out what it is that we really want. Even at this time of year, look closely and you will see that the buds of trees are waiting patiently for the arrival of spring. Stand in the forest and witness the inseparable nature of creation and destruction.
Snowdrops* herald the end of February. These seemingly delicate flowers are a welcome signposts imbued with the hidden strength to defy Winter’s grip, appearing at a time when the slightly longer day-length is significant enough to be noticeable. The first sighting of the year provides a flush of excitement and are a timely reminder not to lose hope.
In many cultures, Snowdrops are a symbol of rebirth. However, resurrection involves some sort of death. Indeed, whilst many societies associate the Snowdrop with hope and rebirth, the British Victorians used it to symbolize death. Grief can feel overwhelming at times and it can manifest itself in many ways, not least anger. Inevitably, for change to occur, we must let go of parts of ourselves that are tired and worn – ready ourselves to discard old ways of being, habits and unhelpful patterns.
*The snowdrop was probably introduced into Britain around five hundred years ago but feels a natural part of our landscape and woodland. This popular little flower is celebrated in various festivals throughout the country; joining others in celebration may be a great way to lift your mood.
Simon Wodward, Indoor and Outdoor Art Therapist