over and out
if, in my leafy little town, they give a prize for last one out to the garbage bins, i think i might be a winner. although some around here might call me a loser. a big fat christmas tree loser.
there was a wind change over the weekend. light changed too. suddenly the december in my backyard looked a little dated. it was like i got the itch.
after weeks of not noticing the spruce faded to not-so-spruce faded to brown, suddenly everywhere i looked it was blkkhh, that color that knows no redemption.
there seem to be two overarching developments out my door (notice we now move beyond the passive looking through window of winter, we advance to actual tiptoeing through door into, voila, out-doors, an early exercise of spring): we’ve got squish, and we’ve got browning.
everywhere you walk, a little water wobbles up from underneath the earth. the final days of winter sticking out their tongues. and then there’s the brown. olive brown, the color of the lawn (or what’s left of it). brown brown, the color of the christmas greens long past their expiration date.
okay, so i surrendered. at last i got the message. hey, lady, your christmas trees are overdue. we’ll see if the garbage man lays on a fine.
i find, as i haul my beloved trees, the ones whose branches harbored so many english sparrows through the most blizzardy of days, the ones in which the juncoes played a sprightly peek-a-boo, that i am pure, plain, sad.
i am decidedly not so good at change. not change of any sort. i–once a catholic school girl confined to the same plaid skirt and navy sweater for eight long years–still look down and find myself wearing a variation on a theme day after blessed day. i am a girl not good at shifting gears.
not even when the gear is shifting from one season to the next. or maybe it’s just leaving winter that makes me pine.
i know there will come a day, come a day quite soon perhaps, when the earth is bursting. when every morning i will be drawn from my bed before dawn to go check the progress in the beds. to see if the delphinium has bloomed, to check the hyacinth unfurling. to keep a mama’s eye–if i’m really blessed–on some mama bird and her baby brood, nesting on a low branch, where i can monitor the long, dramatic road from egg to flight.
but that is not now. right now i am grinding gears. finding the loss of winter just a tad bit sad.
it was not for lack of wishing, wishing for one more morning’s waking up to white, to white that shooshes and silences the sound of a world that sometimes needs a blizzard to slow down, that i finally succumbed and swallowed hard as i unscrewed the screws of the ol’ christmas tree stands and slung the sorry branches over my shoulder, down the path, to back where the garbage trucks do their rumble.
i think of all the things i’ll miss about winter: the sweaters pulled tight, and wrapped around; the frost that swoops and swirls on windowpanes; the crackle of the logs, burning, tumbling from the grate, collapsing in a red inferno of wintry glow. the shock of papa cardinal’s scarlet coat against the all-white tableau of snow, snow and more snow.
the sanctuary of being tucked in a cozy farmhouse kitchen looking out at a winter world of which i am in awe. the contemplative nature of the season that draws us all deep into the back of our cave, where i, curled up under a blanket, with a book, with my thoughts, find deep fuel for the year ahead.
i will await the tender shoots pushing through the earth. the first signs of color amid the brown and ooze. i will, i know, be swept up into spring. but right now, i am feeling empty for the branches no longer there to hold my sparrows.
is there, anywhere in the whole wide world, a single other soul who sadly waves goodbye to winter? or at least to the poetry of winter? certainly not to buckling little boots and stuffing little arms into puffy sleeves, certainly not to cars fishtailing down the lane, but to the beauty of the season that demands retreat to the inner recesses of our shivering soul?
if you missed the first go-around about making bird sanctuaries of christmas trees, take a peek back in the archives to christmas tree leftovers….
Dear BAM –You may miss winter, but I have a feeling in our lovely mid-western town that even though spring is flirting, and tomorrow will be a full-blown kiss kind of day, our friend winter isn’t through with us yet. There’s always one last snow that takes us all by surprise and makes our littlest ones question that we know anything. “How can it be spring if it’s snowing, mom??”Having grown up in upstate-NY, I say a hearty and hale goodbye to this season, but I miss the springs of the mid-Atlantic, where I used to garden. They were more reliable, more springy. The blooms would start and never be cut short by an ill-tempered ice storm or a blowing gust of freezey wind.But don’t get me started on fall. That’s the one that I can’t say goodbye to — my favorite.
this is the tale of our tree from the season of light and love, the season which others know as christmas, chanukkah or kwanzaa, which to the taoist marks the beginning of the return – given the ebb and flow, the time of greatest darkness heralds the return of light – by whatever name, common to all is the season of hope when candles carve holes of light in the darkness.i and my wife are druids. we fear the cutting of trees, hacking asunder roots from the trunk, terminating the flow of sap, slicing the life force from a magnificent green growing thing for a temporary festive decoration brought indoors for maybe a fortnight. as others may choose, so be it, but for us, no, we can’t condone, we cower at this. for so long as we’ve been together we’ve had neither a tree nor any greens indoors at the end of year holidays. we are not orthodox about it; in fact our old apartment forbade, due to firecode, any year’s end decorating with greens, which grow old and brittle, ready to spark in a flash. maybe its just that we got used to not having indoor evergreens but as our druid nature grew stronger it became an active decision that we would not cut down to bring in.thus our paradox: during this past season we wanted to celebrate life in our new home on the casco bay and so we decided to purchase an indoor plant, a tree, that would grace our home and give shelter to our cat during the long days when we both are gone to pursue our bread labor. what came to mind – i know not why – was a podocarpus tree, also known as “buddhist pine,” and so i called around and found there was only one remaining, amongst all the nurseries throughout our region. as i reported this news my wife perked up and told me that this last tree, whom we would adopt and bring home, was named “ah tad” a navaho word for “girl.” mary, at the nursery, rejoiced at the news of this adoption. she assured me the podocarpus was seeking a nice home. as i told her that we would do our best, mary swathed ah-tad in brown craft paper wrapping and smiled to reassure me. i settled the bill then wisked ah tad out into the cold as i dashed off to my waiting car. a few minutes later i proudly brought her home, beaming, as the door was swung open. ah-tad settled in nicely behind the sofa, drinking in the western light, while our cat nestled below.lately she has been wan, her leaves a silver grey color. this denotes overwatering as though our zeal has gotten the better of her. so i dashed back to see mary, who again reassured me, and smiled, and brought out other buddhist pines to show and tell me the how-tos. relieved and excited i bought a gloxinia and a staghorn fern, along with some plant fertilizer and i have redoubled my efforts to tend and to whisper to the plants in our house. we are not yet sure how ah-tad will fare. slowly we watch her health. we spray her daily and water her only now and then, gauging both by feel and weight, ensuring that the roots get time alternately spent with oxygen and H20. the changing of seasons also should help, and we are amazed how the outdoor temperatures affect the indoor plants. we are hoping that new growth emerges shortly, whereupon we will trim back the ends of her tips to force vigorous new growth.i have learned much from this as our home continues to green. our cat too seems content to keep company to his guardian.