Hominy & Hash: WATCHING AND WAITING
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- This is the month when I look out the w= indow at nothing in particular for as long as it takes to breathea sigh, sl= owly turn away and get on with it.
Get on with what? I don't know. This is January and I get throu= gh it.
There's a name for this: the doldrums. If I were a yacht, you'dsa= y I was becalmed for days on end. Yet, I'm far from where the winds are li= ght or non-existent and theweather is hot and sticky. Like the yachtsmen,= though, my internal barometer tells me a squall couldstrike at any moment.
That's about as close as I can get to describing what isa month of = travel for many. It's a time to kick back, get past, lay low, and just tak= e it one day at a time.
My earliest memories of my mother are of her looking out thekitchen= 's back door, hands in her apron pockets, staring blankly through the glass= , perhaps absentlyrunning her fingers over the gatheringdroplets. I can't = be sure it was January but I've struck the same pose(leaving out the apron!= ) every January I can remember.
If I were writing about any other month, I would have stories totel= l. But not about January. All the watching and waiting at thewindow durin= g Januarys past was done blankly, as it was earlier today.In the moments of= quiet reverie, I am not looking back; I am notplanning ahead. I am just = being. I am feeling well; I am not sad. Iam merely subdued ... and there's a f= aintly ominous feeling a squallcould strike at any moment. There are those who have taken these feelings to their doctorswho th= en might call it one of the functional somatic illnesses, likechronic fati= gue syndrome. They then outfit their homes with prescribed(or merely adver= tised) lighting beds, spend time absorbing the rays,and, supposedly, feel b= etter for it. Is it possible the draw to thewindow is nature's way of pro= viding what is needed?
I don't dread January the way I dread August, predictably hotwith g= nats in my ears and nostrils. January just comes and by the timethe last v= estige of holidays is past, the walks to the window begins aswith a gravita= tional pull.
He'll say: "What are you looking at?"
I'll answer: "Nothing."
"What are you thinking about?"
"Then, come on over and sit down."
"In a minute."
And so it goes. I think now of Janus, the ancient Roman god ofdoorways, for whom the mon= th of January was named. He was the TwofoldGod, who looks both ways: to t= he inside and the outside, to the pastand to the future, to the old year an= d the new year, to the old orderand the new order. He proclaimed the inviol= ability of the house, theentries and the exits. I notice my January aimlessness is always at a doorway and notdirect= ed to the window over the kitchen sink or the one beyond theliving room cou= ch. As with my mother, It's with a full-body slouch thatI lean against the= doorway looking through the glass. Whatever it is, I know the answer lies not in a doctor's officenor o= n a psychiatrist's couch. Rather, it's what poems are made of.Henry Wadswo= rth Longfellow understood the syndrome, for lack of a betterword, when he w= rote these lines in "The Day is Done":
I see the lights of= the village
That's as close to the feeling I describe as anything I mightadd. L= ongfellow spoke of day's end; perhaps it's at year's end we facein two dire= ctions -- subconsciously longing for what has been andhesitantly yearning= for what is coming. It's not an unpleasantfeeling, this standstill. Alth= ough I feel somewhat becalmed throughJanuary, I know the wind will pick up.= It always does.