We are now well into the Dark Quarter, which is what I call the period between the midpoint of autumn-equinox-to-winter-solstice and the midpoint of winter-solstice-to-spring-equinox, roughly November 5-February 5. It is that period in which daylength is short and varies little. We still have work to do, but for the most part we work more leisurely for fewer hours per day.
Normally I dread this time of year. The dark and the cold all too predictably bring on bad cases of the winter blues. So far it’s been so sunny that I can hardly feel that threat, and besides, I’ve been looking forward to the Dark Quarter for some time now. It’s the time of year when we can really rest. I often think about the need to deliberately and aggressively seek out rest while I can. Last winter I read a short book by Dr W.C. Tan about agriculture in the Chinese classics. These days, a bit from his translation/commentary on Sage Hou Ji frequently comes to mind:
Do not miss the farming timing and do not perform any farming activities at an inappropriate time. It is absolutely critical to know the difference between the way that leads to prosperity and the way that leads to poverty. And that is, once farming season has started, work hard period [sic]. And once the farming season is over, rest from labour. …There are those who do not understand the principle of farming, who prior to the arrival of the farm-season have already started doing things. These same people, after the farm-season is over still preoccupy themselves with farming. And after they have missed the precious period, they begin to regret. This is a clear case of not adhering to the proper timing. ~from The Tao of Traditional Chinese Agriculture by Dr. W.C. Tan
This is the precious period in which we can rest. All too often I have missed the proper timing, and then been hampered by a need for rest during the growing season. But resting is tricky. There is still alot that I want to get done: reading up on various farming topics, dealing with statistics/paperwork for government and certifying bodies, various organization and repair jobs, and–importantly–catching up on socializing. I look forward to all that (except perhaps the paperwork!), but rest needs to get high priority. By the time March arrives, we’ll already be busy again. But let’s not speak of that! It’s still November, near the beginning of the Dark Quarter, and I’m already enjoying it.