jeudi 9 décembre 2010



Vapor rose like faint smoke from the concrete handrail of the garden stairs and heavy drops of semi-liquid ice fell from the leaves of the bows overhead, a steady patter of tree rain. There was vapor rising from the unsplit logs of firewood, and once I had placed the tarp back over the fire wood, lifted my rubber pail of split logs and turned to head back up through the wintry rain forest of what is left of the cedar row -- the twin sentinels at the bottom of the stairs -- and the arching wisteria, I saw vapor rising from the pool cover, too. Everything was warming in the December morning sun, turning ice and snow back to water, and then to air. Fallen wisteria leaves caught under unmelted ice on the stairs and the snow that remained, frozen on the brilliant winter grass, crunched under my boot soles.

For some reason, grass is almost brighter in the cold.

The last snow had melted from the tongues of euphorbia leaves and given hope of another day to live to the oleander. I made a mental note to bring it inside later, when my husband would be home to help lift and carry it to shelter. Perhaps the pots of surfinia that has not given up the ghost yet to the frigid nights. Last night one almost one of those. When I opened the door to take Fia out for the last time and go to bed, I discovered a deep black sky with brilliant constellations set into it, like a gift of diamonds in a vast stretch of black velvet to represent this moment of that night's sky for a Lady, made deeper black by the wisps of gray cloud and the branches etched into it in white snow and clear, twinkling ice.

Winter matches my mood these days of long nights with its solitariness, quiet thoughtfulness. It is tempting during these evenings to light candles like stars against the dark of the house lit by the glow of the fire, a night sun in the open hearth, and let the thoughts roam where they might, asking nothing of the mind to organize them or to make them useful. It is a time merely to be, between the periods of activity marked by the end of autumn and the beginning of spring. I could easily imagine traveling far north to Norway or to Sweden to make them longer yet. Why do we resist it? Perhaps this season is not lost, but has its lessons to teach, too.

In the midst of this, Christmas approaches, demanding that we get in the car and drive to stores to buy a tree, to become overwhelmed trying to decide what to give to people who themselves probably could scarcely care less what is inside the wrapping paper we have carefully chosen, folded and taped into place, securing ribbon tie or a bow in place.

Maybe this will be the year I will dare to make gift-giving as bare as the branches and as simple
, I suggest to myself.

"They might not understand. It might seem only like you didn't care enough."

But, what if I could offer points of light in the dark like the stars in the clear black sky, the candles in the darkened house, the strings of lights on the tree, peace?

"They might not see. You need to spend money to make a present seem like a present."

Then, I will offer books and sweaters, shirts and DVDs, games and silk scarves, jewelry and reviews, and wish that I had offered peace and quiet.

"You will do better that way."

And I will offer myself light in the dark and peace.

"That will be good."

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