January – I feel like it’s the biggest challenge of the year! Back to work when waistlines and budgets are worryingly tight and serious cutting back is the order of the day. Bills instead of parcels and cards coming through the door. Dark dismal days when you never get to see the light and which squeeze any warmth out of your fingers, lips and toes.
January always feels so grim and colourless. But is it?
I wrap up with so many layers I’m like a ball of clothes on legs and force myself out on my daily walk to combat computer stiffness both in body and brain. And I find that actually it isn’t – you just have to notice.
There’s a singing brilliance in the few remaining berries, each highlighted with a drip of melting frost. There are beautiful bramble leaves still hanging onto stems which have turned a rich dark purple in the bruising cold and wet. And there’s an almost luminous yellow green to the stunning lichen along twigs and branches. It shines out in the grey stark month with such a colour it looks like encrusted sunshine.
The sight of it all lifts my January spirits, my chin from being tucked into my layers and my eyes from the soggy ground and I take more in. I hear the crows and rooks chattering about nesting sites, I see the groups of majestic curlew feeding in the field, lifting with their soul-moving song as I approach. And back in the garden I see the sharp show-off breast of the bossy robin guarding the birdfeeder.
The natural world goes on all around, January or not, and can provide the perfect repair kit for the damage done by that indoor, fireside, over eating lifestyle we’ve all indulged in over Christmas. It gives us green exercise, fresh air, natural music, and free gifts to look forward to like Spring!