The pines and cedars are stoic in their wintering. They've witnessed thousands of storms and know winter's story inside out.
Thin but brilliant sunlight comes between storms. It's southern-slung, bitter and sharp.
We're having a real winter with rain, wind, fog, and freezing temperatures in my part of California. It's breath-taking and starkly beautiful.
We've been saying around here that our Christmas was merry and bright, and it was all downhill from there.
That's because there was a cold that became the flu that became pneumonia that led to an intestinal virus. It's laid me out for the last 21 days - three very, very long weeks. As someone who rarely gets sick, it's been an experience that I don't care to repeat. But I've had time to watch the weather through my windows, and to feel deep gratitude for a warm bed, ginger tea, and the miracle of healing.
In this morning's darkness I see work everywhere - papers, mail, deliveries, dishes, laundry, a refrigerator to clear out. All the random pieces of life undone in the wake of illness. But those things will all wait for me, just as the trees and land will wait for spring.
And so today, on the 17th day of the new year, I plan to step lightly, finally, into 2017. Carefully. With ginger tea and a hand sanitizer in my bag, I'm on my way.