Back in the swing, but it's a slow swing. I have been thinking about January a lot. Or, rather, thinking about whether it is actually possible to hibernate in winter, the way animals do. My animals become cold-honey slow in the winter. I am with them all day, every day. It's impossible not to know their routines, their moods, their changes, their needs. If I don't intuit something they need, they tell me. When Eileen was here pet-sitting last fall, one day she texted me something like, "It's weird, but they actually do tell you what they want, don't they?" And yes, they absolutely do. If you do not live with animals, you might think it would be difficult to understand them. But if you do live with animals, I bet you know exactly what they are trying to tell you, pretty much every minute. Really, it's very easy. You guess once and get it right, and suddenly whatever it was you just did in response to whatever it was she just did is a vocabulary word, forever, for both of you.
They change with the seasons. When I listen to the pets in the wintertime, I hear them sleeping, sleeping, sleeping. They look for the warmest spot and then they curl themselves around it and they sleep. This is not what they do in summer. In summer, life is all about outside: Someone's coming in, someone's going out, someone's walking by, someone's in the yard, someone's left the yard, someone's going to get the hose, someone might drop some food on the ground, someone's coming in again, someone's going out. Busy hours. There is so much more to be alert for. But in the winter, especially after Christmas, it is just quieter. All of the windows and doors are closed. We don't hear outside noises. It's often raining. It's quieter activity-wise because what could there possibly be to do, after all that was just done? December feels almost manic, socially speaking. January feels like a deep breath — a sigh — in the conversation. It's closer, and darker, and that always feels quieter. It's resting, stay-still, no-rush time. Maybe the only sanctioned time for it in the whole year. We are animals too, after all. All I want to do is stay bundled and curled. Make soups that take four or five hours. Make bread that takes eighteen. Watch movies about ice skaters. Linger over lazy lunches. Read snowy Russian novels. Oil wooden spoons and cutting boards. Take long eucalyptus-infused baths. Knit stuff. Refill the teapot. Blow off my chores. Read illustrated cookbooks. Scratch furry little corgis behind their ears. Coast on momentum, I guess. Be long and linger, January. Don't rush off. I need the time. I need the time.