To be melancholic is to wake up at 5 in the morning to the sound of the street sweeper and notice the entire town bathed in deep, grey fog, and to worry about the cold and the lack of sun, while simultaneously basking in the glory of clouds traveling in and out of your windows as the moments of the early morning pass quickly by.
Also, it is to feel a pain in your heart that makes you leap toward a pond and find the baby frogs peeping on a late summer afternoon, or notice the multitude of colours in viburnum flowers that race toward the sky, pluming from branches of a very tall tree outside a tea house with a newly-built, Japanese-style water garden.
It is a palpable sense of love: one that you hold in your hand as if it were a roasted chestnut on a cold day, keeping it safe inside your hands, warm, suspended in animation, knowing that love is multi-layered, a palimpsest without limit. Melancholy is noticing the light of late spring sunsets cast behind maple leaves, transforming them into a glowing mass of golden-green light that shifts in the wind, that shafts of sun pass through, temporarily blinding you in glory as you drive into the sunset instead of away from it.
Melancholy is the feeling of joy and poignancy that comes when the beauty of the natural world is so overwhelming you wish you could just bottle it, pour it into a cup and send it to the ones you love the most just so that they could see it and feel it, too. Melancholy is cigarettes smoked late in the night, in the morning really, while walking along a path on the shore, gazing out at fogbanks that cover up islands all in a row, breathing out, into the rain and fog, walking home, staring at the lights of houses and boats bobbing in the water, and hearing foghorns and the deep clanging bell noise of the buoys.
Melancholy is unlocking the door: a sideways glance at all of those who enter, wondering who will stay, who will go, who will sit and talk, who will break your chairs or smudge your walls with emotional fingerprints, and whether those smudges are dark and greasy, or golden, gilded and everlasting.
Melancholy is rhubarb and sweet peas, exploding with growth in spring sun, reaching ever upward against gravity, deep green, pungent, earth black, filled with earthworms, and the echoing call of wind chimes hanging in the branches of an apple tree.
Melancholy is sitting on an upholstered sofa that was brought in through the windows in the 1920s, and realizing how many people have sat here, just like you. Melancholy is an antique vise, a ball peen hammer, a plane that exemplifies craftsmanship and care and engineering and appreciation and art, all at the same time; old locksets that turn with skeleton keys, and the stillness of many pieces of antique steel, all in rows, organized against the entropy of the outside world.
Melancholy are the crows: hopping and flying from here, to there, calling and cackling to all of us as we walk along, under them, noticing all the things that make life so beautiful and dark, so colorful and raw, so lovely, so visceral, and that passes us by so quickly, in the blink of an eye, blinded by the beauty of a sunny day.