The Slow Season

Photo Credit: Talon Gillis

The Slow Season

👤Matt J. Simmons 🕔Dec 04, 2018

I’m at the lake. It’s night, cold. The moon slips behind the ridge, a shimmering silver tail flicking out from behind a gap in the trees. Her last dance for tonight. Little sounds play in the darkness and in the distance a train, its clacking and rumbling reverberating around the basin that surrounds me. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, open them again. I’m not really thinking—just observing.  

Slow down.

Look at what’s in front of you—now and always. Let your eyes wander, your mind ponder. Drift.

Where is this, this beach dusted by winter? Look at the sand in the picture. Sand is slow, its very presence a reminder of geological time. The northern tide stretches out languorously, tugging at infinite particles, playing at patterns until the beach is an expansive piece of ephemeral artwork.

And look at how the page breaks through. Because we’re not really on the beach. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” Magritte. What then are we looking at? Paper—a page ink-stained with words. Once a tree, old and quiet. Impassively weathering change. And then—transformed. Now turned from tangible tree into intangible beach, the frozen sand, slow. And the words, too, a product of every moment I’ve been alive and so many more before—the history of the English language itself, everything I’ve read from Maurice Sendak to Immanuel Kant, a teetering pile of knowledge passed on.

It’s funny how perception changes everything. The beach, the lake, the tree. Look at things closely and you see their distance. The water glass isn’t just half full, it’s packed with complex processes and a long, slow history—evaporation, condensation, weather patterns, vast journeys through the sky. Turn on the tap.

But slowness isn’t easy. That tap needs to be fixed—it drips. Time can be such an unfaithful friend, too often rushing by like the white quickness of a turbulent river. Thankfully, though, there are things in life which are suited to slowing down.

Winter is one, for me anyway. Something about the hushed and dark nature of northern winters speaks slowness to me. The music I listen to changes with the seasons and winter is deep, moody music, slow and measured, like the careful steps of a climber on a mountain ridge. Long evenings lend themselves to warm reading or a deck of cards. Short, snowy days make for slow-paced excursions into the white and shadowy environment.

And all these slow moments—whether a season’s worth or just this moment right now—mean so much.

“Things can sometimes move slowly here on Earth,” writes Oliver Jeffers in Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth. “More often though, they move quickly, so use your time well. It will be gone before you know it.”