Sleepy Dormouse

Dormice that live in temperate climates go through long periods of hibernation lasting six months or more (although do occasionally get up for a snack). They make their nests along the forest floor, hidden by logs and piles of leaves. It’s illegal to disturb a sleeping Dormouse, or its nesting space.

Well, here we are, 2022. January something or other and I’m feeling like an over-cooked, cheese stuffed, boneless ham. Gonna be honest… January kicks my butt. It feels unnatural to be a part of the outside world. I wish it would stop poking me and let me sit on my couch, drink butter, and sink deeper into the warm, dark safety of our snoozy nest.

“The Dormouse had closed its eyes by this time, and was going off into a doze; but, on being pinched by the Hatter, it woke up again with a little shriek…” Lewis Carroll

This Newsletter has been on my desk for over a month. It would be easier to wrestle a bear than write this thing. It’s cold in my office and all the important pathways leading anywhere need defrosting – both from winter ice and sugar icing. The writing stops for tea drinking, then moving my desk to a “better” writing position (as if sitting location were the problem). I pull up a new browser tab and head for the thesaurus – but detour at baby hedgehogs pictures and a video of a beaver damming up his rehabber’s shoe shelf. I snap a picture of my dog Pheobels, her eyes-closed and fur shining in a sunspot, before wandering away in search of a snack.

I end up crocheting.

While I have two projects in process already, I start a foundation row to try out a new yarn. Necessary to support the project’s stitches, foundation rows are fiddly; fingers turn into thumbs, the yarn fights back, stitches look messy, and it’s all terribly unwieldy. It all feels incredibly unsatisfying. Often, the row needs to be pulled out and redone because it’s too tight or sagging loose as the crocheter has yet to adjust to the weight and feel of the yarn. But building the foundation row takes all the time it needs to take, if you want a solid project, and that’s just how it is.

Winter has patience.

Seemingly endless dark, shelters life’s most precious moments; suspended minutes of living and loving that float in the quiet, between the snowflakes, buried under blankets, at the bottom of mugs warmed by tea and chocolate. Welcomed into this luxury of hearth fires through senses – the smell of burned wood, coal and ash, inviting orange glow set into a black stove -it’s the heart of our home, our nest. Our everything treasured, tucked safe and snug for a good long rest.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”, Lao Tzo

There’s a struggle to coalescence this time of year that’s akin to the fiddly fight of building a foundation row. Opposing forces of internal vs external separate and snag like yarn; there’s the anxiety of not attending outside obligations, the guilt of enjoying the quiet, the loathing self-judgment of diving into the stockpile of snacks. It’s hard to stop struggling, to drift with the snow, to rest and burrow into the deep, warm center of the Dark.

Periods of hibernation need to be punctuated with moments of social contact, or else we unravel. We need to have the “Alls Well” call from the night to feel safe. Leaving the nest reorientates us to our surroundings, pinpoints the location of our tribe.

As our holiday season comes to a close and classes begin, the thought of leaving this place, at first, brings on an agoraphobic knee-jerk response. But, then we find ourselves in the company of our students, connecting with our community, and we’re filled with joy. We reaffirm our mission to be facilitators of connection for our students and region, and whole-heartedly hug the New Year. Now firmly rooted in our foundation row, we reemerge stronger, focused, centered.

I’m building my foundation row in the quiet, stove-warmed, patient moments of Winter. Weaving this feeling, my intention to take this love into the New Year. I’m working out the struggle in my crocheting – each knot created with careful, focused attention until the project takes on a comfortable rhythm; the pattern imbedding into muscle memory. The crochet stitches coming together, each one linked, building and making a “thing” for warmth & comfort, or simple beauty. I’m here to enjoy being here – in order to bring what’s here – love, connection, strength, resilience – out there to you.

Wish you all a very peaceful, loving, intentional New Year.


Heather & Wade