Last night the Winter King dreamed of pussy willows.

Pussy willow snow

Last night in the heart of February, the Winter King dreamed of pussy willows. He dreamed of them sitting atop red buds in the lair of his woods. He dreamed them fresh with life and song and laughter. But, because he’s the Winter King, he can’t truly feel Spring so he dreamed the pussy willows out of snow droplets.

Some of you may have seen them this morning.

The Winter King, as many of you know, wears icicles in his beard. He carries a staff carved with reindeer and moose and sassy elk. I think he wears a long midnight-blue cloak that sparkles with stars and cold moons. If you reached your hands into his infinite pockets you can touch the North Pole. His cheeks gleam frosty over his tangled white beard and he’s wise, wiser than you and me, wiser than his summer sister with all her beautiful green dresses woven with wildflowers and sunshine.

Icicle lightening

I read a trilogy about the Winter King these frigid February days in our woods. Barbara, over at By the Sea, recommended the books and yes, indeed, they held me captive over endless cups of tea on our brown and green wintercouch. Katherine Arden is the best-selling authoress of The Winternight Trilogy: The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower, and the Winter of the Witch.

Mostly I liked the books–so rich in imagination and depth and fairytale. She writes of a marriage between the invisible and visible realms. There’s richness here, and a Winter King (imagined differently than MY Winter King who dreamed of pussy willows last night). There’s good and bad, war and peace, love and hate in ancient Russia–and a resolution of sorts, although I won’t spoil the story. I didn’t like the emphasis on war in the third book, but, hey, war seems an inevitable consequence of living in our human bodies these days, although maybe the Winter King will dream war away this very February night with the magic cup of reconciliation.

Sunrise this morning

Last night I dreamed, too. In the 5:30 a.m. dream I walked home from the neighbors in the woods and somehow (?) brought with me a coiled snake, two armadillo and seven new-born wolf pups and their mother. I shooed them out of the house into the garage (it had turned into my childhood home) and they all left peacefully, even the wolf mama. I don’t remember how the snake got out.

I felt good after this dream, like the wilderness is inside and outside me. Just like the dreaming. Like the Winter Shaman drummed something in and out. Like I know something more than yesterday–I just don’t know what. It has to do with wolf puppies and not being afraid.

This is the midnight world of winter, isn’t it? and the line blurs between materialization and spirit. Through the endless snow and cold we glimpse–we do glimpse it, don’t we?–the promise of pussy willows. Of warmth. Of melting rivers. Of opening into the possibility of bare feet freedom.

What are you dreaming these days? Or are you still ambling along with the Winter King, holding his icy hand, riding his sleigh down into the next adventure, and the next, and the next?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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39 Responses to Last night the Winter King dreamed of pussy willows.

  1. Carol says:

    I am dreaming of spring, because I am not a great admirer of the Winter King, despite his cold majesty.

  2. leelah saachi says:

    I got a bunch of pussy willows last Sunday/Mother’s Day – with Tulips to go. The tulips are already bowing deep. but the furry buds will last for long and even sprout light green leaves pretty soon
    I too had a GOOD dream last night – they are so rare and so welcome.Something felt like a good change had happened inside -it has lasted the whole day.

    • leelah saachi says:

      – and your morning glow photo made me think of how we may feel after a LONG period of frozenness – almost like a spell – and suddenly.this glow is there in front of you, just beyond those trees -I am coming

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Leelah! I am smiling thinking you have pussy willows AND tulips already. And isn’t it nice when those good dreams happen? I rarely remember dreams these days, so was delighted with this latest one. Probably it was remembered because it happened just before awakening in the morning.

  3. Larissa says:

    I’m dreaming of Spring, and so are the chickadees in my neighborhood (which looks a lot like yours – snowy)!

    • Kathy says:

      Larissa, I think our areas are similar this time of year. We love our chickadees because they’re not afraid of staying during deep winter, but they also chirp their joy at spring’s reappearance. ❤

  4. jeffstroud says:

    What wondrous dreaming adventure you experienced to share with usI I imagine it all so brilliantly..
    Spring seems very far away still. With snow falling again today… and throughout the week… I will certainly check around for the books !

    • Kathy says:

      Jeff, I think you have a great imagination! I am glad you liked this dreaming/shamanic adventure. Not sure if you like to read fantasy/fiction, but you might at least want to read a sample to see if the books appeal to you.

  5. I had no idea armadillos were in Michigan. Fascinating!

  6. dawnkinster says:

    I dream long, complicated dreams almost every night these days, but I can’t remember them for more than a few minutes upon waking. While awake I daydream of sunshine and warm weather…I’m sure pussy willows are blooming somewhere.

    • Kathy says:

      Wondering if you’re still down south where the pussy willows are perhaps–just perhaps–thinking of blooming from something other than snow. Like you, I rarely remember my dreams these days. In the “old” days of the 80’s and 90’s I filled journal after journal with dreams.

  7. Love your pussy willow snow and gorgeous sunrise! I must be the slowest reader on the planet — I’m only half way through the second book of “The Winternight Trilogy” but am thoroughly enjoying it so far. I can feel the icy cold seeping into my bones as I read… Oh yes, we can definitely see the pussy willows through the endless snow and cold and in our dreams. The other night I dreamed that my sister and I were sitting here in my living room and her childhood cat, Butterscotch, walked into the room, pounced on something invisible on the carpet — you know how cats are — and then vanished himself. I was so startled that I woke up. Still have no idea what to make of the dream…

    • Kathy says:

      I think it’s great you’re a slow reader, Barbara. I think a slow reader might be able to “digest” more of the imagery. Kind of like Presence in reading. I have always read very fast and it sometimes feels like a detriment. Thanks again for the recommendation for this trilogy. How interesting that you dreamed of Butterscotch! It’s hard to figure out what dreams really mean–but sometimes the FEEL of them can be instructive or make a difference.

  8. debyemm says:

    After a long spell of winter and deep (for us) snow, I am looking forward to the melt coming this weekend into early next week. I find snow inconvenient. So much bundling up and having to put on real shoes and socks to go to the mailbox. Yesterday, I thought I could run out there in my PJs and slippers. My feet sank in the soft powdery snow that went above my ankles getting snow into my slippers. The county road grader came through on Thursday (I think it was) and the big pile of snow between the road and our mailbox meant I had to reach around to put the mail in and pull up the flag. Oh draught such inconvenience !! I am spoiled. Your winters make our Missouri winters look like a temporary lark. Stay warm !!

    • Kathy says:

      Deb, I am grinning thinking of you running to the mailbox in PJs and slippers. Now that’s something! Do cars come by on your road often? We have access to the lake at the end of our road, so quite a few cars pass by. I go to the mailbox in Grandma’s old snowmobile suit–which FEELS like PJs and slippers–and don’t like to be seen in it because it’s so ancient. But it’s easy to slip on with boots. Smiling again at our minor inconveniences. Hope you are having a good weekend!

  9. Ally Bean says:

    I’m still ambling along with the Winter King, allowing myself to be lost in the time of year when there are no external demands on my time, only ones I put on myself. I’ll shift to spring hopefulness soon, but today, right now, I am accepting the cold, the gray, the monotony of my February days.

    • Kathy says:

      Ally Bean, this sounds just perfect. Not dreaming of pussy willows, not pushing away the Winter King’s gifts. Acceptance seems to be key to–well, just about everything!

  10. This entire post reads like a fairytale. I felt like Alice again, except it was really cold. Haha!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh good, Markus and Micah, you dreamed your way into my cold fairytale and met the Winter King who waved his staff and turned you into Alice. Oh my, said the Cheshire Cat. *grin*

  11. We don’t have pussy willows here at least I am pretty sure they don’t grow in Texas but they are really pretty. Your dream was fascinating and frightening to me as I read of your slumbering adventure. Presently I am daydreaming of warmer days. The weather here is not suited to houses, animals, and power grids. I had no power but I have natural gas as a heater in my den and as a cook stove. I was eternally grateful and thankful that I live in an old house with gas as heat.

    • Kathy says:

      I am so glad you commented, Yvonne, because I was going to go look for you on Facebook and see if you were OK down there in Texas! Glad to hear you are. Your natural gas is a godsend, indeed. Our daughter and her husband were out of power for five days in Portland, Oregon, this week and we were very concerned. Fortunately they had money to go to a hotel and the weather was warmish so their cats were OK. They were so worried about the cats! Now everyone is luxuriating in heat again.

  12. Tilly says:

    Spring must be on her way, snowdrops and crocus have appeared in our garden,

    I had never heard of those books, the last book I read about Wintersmith/king of winter was by Terry Prattchett. Love Terry Prattchett books.

    Bright blessings

    • Kathy says:

      Crocus already! And snowdrops! You ARE on your way to Spring, if not already there. I don’t know anything about Terry Prattchett but will look up. Seems like the Winterking is a common theme among dreamers and authors.

  13. Robin says:

    I love your tale of the Winter King and the pussy willows. I also put the trilogy that you and Barbara recommended on my reading list. It sounds like something I would love (although not the war parts, so much).

    I have been dreaming of my life, of the pilgrimage of it. I wrote a post about it last Monday although it was hard to put into words.

    • Kathy says:

      I loved reading your pilgrimage post, Robin. It’s so hard to put these kind of important journeys into words. But perhaps important to mark it through dreams or words or stories, perhaps. The Winter King series is definitely a walk through polarities/dualities. And how we humans struggle because we’re labeling things good and evil. But our heroine (not the Winter King) finds a way to transcend, but oops, I’m telling secrets.

  14. Barb says:

    I’m still walking hand in hand with the Winter King. I only start summer-dreaming sometime in May when the snow starts to melt. In fact, I keep hoping Winter King will be a bit more generous with snow. Here we are, near the end of February, and our snowpack is still so low. I love the photos showing the beauty of winter. Stay warm and well, Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      Sounds very healthy, Barb. It’s good to remember that we need to snow to keep our woods moist and free from the likelihood of forest fires. I both enjoy the winter days–and look forward to spring’s arrival. It can be so beautiful in winter, but I like the warmth and freedom of the season’s change. But would never want to not appreciate what’s here now!

  15. Debbie says:

    My dreams are really convoluted these days, but I can’t seem to recall more than bits and pieces upon awakening. Probably just too many thoughts circling around my head and needing my attention. Not sure I’ve ever dreamed of an armadillo though — still chuckling over that one, Kathy!

    • Kathy says:

      Debbie, my dreams are usually like yours–which is why this one stood out so much! Like why dream of armadillos???? Except maybe unconsciously I knew they were having freezing weather in Texas, and that’s the last time I ever saw an armadillo. Maybe?

  16. Lori says:

    Interesting symbolic dream. Those novels sound interesting, too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kathy says:

      You are very welcome, Lori. I’ve had another dream or two about gently shoeing wild animals out of the house since this dream. Interesting indeed.

  17. Stacy says:

    I love winter!
    I dream of intangible things becoming reality.
    I thank you for writing this post and sharing your photos.
    XOXO

    • Kathy says:

      Mornin’, Stacy! I love your enthusiasm for winter. This morning (well, last night) the Winter King blasted us again. Well, maybe gently kissed us with two inches of the fluffies. I said this to Barry this morning over coffee and he said, “What, are you taking an online poetry class now?” Pssshhaw! To think that guy has never met the Winter King and he’s lived here for more than 40 years. *grin*

  18. nice post. Pussy willow is cool

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