I have my desk along the north wall of my house, and there is a window not too far from where I sit and work. I have a pair of thick curtains on all the windows in my house that I like to keep open during the day and close at sundown regardless the weather. However, when I quit using a wood-stove several years ago, I found out how drafty my house could get in winter — the massive heat of the wood-stove was covering up that fact. Naturally I started to keep the curtains closed when it was cold outside, especially the ones on the window on the north wall that was almost next to me. They didn’t quite stop all the chills, but were better than nothing. Consequently, I learned to keep this pair closed during the winter.
Though it remained relatively mild this winter, I kept the curtains on the north window closed. When the balmy weather suddenly arrived a couple of weeks ago, I stood right next to this window one morning and thought about a moment, then pulled the string to open the curtains. The light rushed in and made the whole house brighter. I could see a few starlings perching in the red maple tree next door above the Winery Barn.
I instantly recalled the kigo, a word or term that must be included to describe a season in a Japanese haiku; “Open the North Window” (if it were English) is used to indicate the haiku is about spring. They used to (or maybe even now in some regions) close up any openings, windows and sometimes doors, on the north side of their houses to prevent the winter cold to sneak in. They often literally nailed some boards to close them tight. Once the spring arrived, they went out to remove the shields that kept them warm but dark during the winter. I thought I understood their joy to let the light come in again and the relief that the bitter winter was finally over.
The vernal equinox is behind us and the sun has started his trek north to the summer solstice. There is the period every summer when the setting sun over the Lake can be seen from this north window while I sit around. That’s what, of course, I’m looking forward to now.