Saturday, December 31, 2011
Urge for Going
There's this great old song by Joni Mitchell called "Urge for Going." The tune is slow, thoughtful, and melancholy -- like most of Mitchell's songs, which is probably why she appeals to melancholy types like me. She sings about her sorrow at the coming of winter and her longing for summer to return:
I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town;
It hovered in a frozen sky, and it gobbled summer down.
When the sun turns traitor cold and all the trees are shivering in a naked row,
I get the urge for going, but I never seem to go.
I get the urge for going when the meadow grass is turning brown,
and summer time is falling down and winter is closing in.
There was a time, perhaps, when I would have sincerely hummed the words of this lovely song as a dirge at the closing of summer and the coming of winter. Winter has never been my favorite season. It's dark, cold, and dreary. The earth is still and silent. In years past, it has always been that season to trudge through perseveringly, while eagerly awaiting the advent of spring with its gentle warmth and newness.
This year is different, though. I suspect it has something to do with an exceptionally trying summer of extreme heat (which means very extreme heat in Oklahoma). I suspect is also has something to do with the fact that summer lasted this year until November. I also suspect it has something to do with the fact that this week the temperatures have reached heights that are typical for most places in May or June (today it's 74 degrees). I'm guessing, too, that living here for nearly six years has just taken a toll on this Pacific Northwesterner's heart. Whatever the reason, or reasons, I just feel the longing for winter this year in an especially deep way. I want to sing with Joni Mitchell, but I want to change the song to one of joy at the coming of cold. Maybe I would sing: I get the urge for staying when summer time is falling down and winter is closing in.
I've done my share of complaining about winter in the past, about gray clouds and rain, rain, rain that won't leave. And I still adore springtime -- oh how I love the fresh smell of earth and the hugging warmth of the sun after days of darkness. But I miss coolness. I miss gentle winds and gray days, days of fleece and gloves, of walking with my hands wrapped around a warm coffee cup. I miss the clean scent of fir trees in the cold, with moisture clinging to the air so thickly that you can almost taste it. I miss... being outside.
I miss the color green.
I'll ply the fire with kindling now, I'll pull the blankets up to my chin;
I'll lock the vagrant winter out, and I'll pull my wandering in.
I'd like to call back summer time and have her stay for just another month or so...
No, summer can postpone itself indefinitely. I want the cold, with the frost perched on the town like so many shimmering jewels, and with the naked trees standing like gray pillars of honor. Winter can come this year, and none too soon.
She can stay for awhile, too.