Breathing Space


Then Altjahrswoche, that oasis in which to reflect on the year that is coming to an end and to prepare for one ahead. But it passes with lightning speed.

Whizz, Bang – the old year is rung out, the new rung in. It is the first of January.

And I am not ready.

I feel like a molefish, tossed from my familiar surroundings onto an unknown shore. I am flailing. The wave that flung me here has broken, is now receding. There is no going back for me.

I have arrived in the future unprepared, but I am not a naked molefish on a deserted beach. My landing has been accompanied by a motley collection of my very own flotsam and jetsam, the debris from last year, the year before, my childhood, the childhoods of my molekin and all my mole ancestors.

Poor old Altjahrswoche. How can it possibly be expected to contain the expectations I have gathered for it? If I want to reflect, clear the old away, tie up loose ends, think ahead – how can also enjoy it as the time for pausing and breathing between what has passed and what is to come? It becomes overloaded, and is then out of sorts, and so am I. A week is not elastic enough for me.

Especially when it is hot.

This time of year it can be too warm to think, too bright to reconfigure my scattered molebits into a contained and recognisable molepelt. Our calendar did not evolve on this island or anywhere near it. The new year is more or less aligned with the sun’s move northwards, and hooray, I say, may it hasten to the northern hemisphere and bring more light to those who wish it.

But I am a mole. In order to gather myself for reflection, for listening to my true moleself, I need to go underground, find some dark, breathe deeply, gather myself in, close my ears and focus my eyes. And I need time.

So I do what I always do when I can feel a frazzle coming on. I pull down the blinds, turn on a fan, ensconce myself in Great Uncle Mole’s armchair and rest my hindlegs on his Egyptian pouffe. I light one of the cheroots he was so fond of, and I wonder what can be done.

Clearly Altjahrswoche needs to be longer. And if Altjahrswoche is going to be longer then New Year needs to be delayed. The 1st of January is much too soon after Christmas. Rauhjahr and Yuletide do stretch through to Epiphany on January 6th, but those six extra days still feel inadequate. The Chinese New Year – the Rooster, – begins on 28th of January which would give me more leeway. Medieval calendars in Europe began their years on the 25th March, close to the vernal equinox. It would, of course, be the autumnal equinox here, but what better time than the point when the days really shorten and cooler weather sets in for this mole to hunker down to do whatever it is that it has decided it does best.

That would give me a whole Altjahrs quarter.

This spaciousness will allow me a season for thoughts to float. The old can still drift about a bit, be gently left behind when it is ready. Loose ends can linger awhile and then be tied with celebratory bows. Those that remain persistent can be threaded into future ventures. I will have time to float new ideas, to experiment, to let go what doesn’t work.

Now I can feel my lungs filling with air again.

Murmurs of Mole will be appearing fortnightly from now on.


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