The following piece was written by Maggie Gavin. Maggie has been teaching yoga for The Perri Institute for Mind and Body for five years. She is currently pursuing her MSW at Fordham University to learn how to support mental health through yoga. Catch her class at Steps on Broadway: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 AM and Fridays at 12 PM.
It’s time for me to stop pretending I hate winter. I love winter. If my love for winter means I buck the tide of popular opinion, so be it. Winter feeds my introverted soul. I get to cozy up on the couch with my love and my favorite cup of tea, because the cold provides the perfect excuse to stay in. I get to sit in front of a fire and sip hot chocolate because going outside means my body is working hard to stay warm and should be rewarded for its effort. I get to enjoy my favorite outdoor activities – skiing, snowshoeing and ice-skating – coming home the best kind of fatigued. I get to sleep soundly through the long, dark nights. And then, when winter ends, we get a slow thawing. We get to reemerge, hopefully better rested and more thoughtful from our months of hibernation. Winter becomes not just a time for rest, but for reinvention.
I recently came across Thomas Hardy’s poem, "The Darkling Thrush". In the desolate winter landscape, there’s one voice of joy and hope. Though the thrush is battered and frail from its winter battles, its song reminds the speaker to keep the faith. Winter won’t last forever.
So here I am. Let me be your thrush, cutting through the bleakness with a joyful song. As we look forward and hope for the rising temperatures of spring, savor the rest of what winter offers. Give yourself permission to hunker down. Enjoy the quietness while it lasts.
The Darkling Thrush
By Thomas Hardy
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.
Photography by Maggie Gavin