Wasn’t that cold spell annoyingly long??!! At least most of the days hovering around zero were clear days and that gave us a chance to mulch the roses. Perhaps the roots won’t heave now that the weather has temporarily returned to mild. Kerm calls roses my expensive annuals; clay soil and yo-yoing temperatures are not conducive to rose health and I must admit to losing a few now and then. I seldom buy hybrid teas anymore because they are less hardy regardless of what the catalog says. I usually stick with floribundas and shrub roses, only occasionally succumbing to something for Zone 5, with “ruffled petals and entrancing aroma”, delusional about my ability to protect it sufficiently.
Winter, even with its cold temperatures, snowy roads and icy steps, does have incredible beauty. This year of 2018 began with a marvelous and immense full moon. It shone on the light covering of snow, so brightly that it was nearly possible to read by its light. This was a beautiful winter scene that made the extreme cold sort of bearable. Now if the northern lights would just make an appearance; I’ve only seen them twice here; the green streaks across the sky were spectacular.
Our 12th Night party, marking the journey of the Magi, is over and the season of so much celebration has ended. Those parties are now a good part of our history. They have been absolutely wonderful --- for a lot of years --- and brought friends together from many walks of life. An evening of fragrant candles, all sorts of food, laughter and good conversation is a wonderful tradition, but preparation time was getting to be a bit --- well, actually, a lot --- too wearing. The mélange of memories from these parties, though, will warm my heart forever --- the laughter and stories and friends. I recall the year when a family member needed to stay overnight here, and it happened to be the night of our party. She opened the front door and just stood there, staring. Our not-all-that-large house was wall to wall people; people imbibing fruit punch or mulled cider; people munching on cookies or enjoying bowls of soup; people standing and chatting, and every available chair taken. To fill our cups of enjoyment to the brim now, we’ll just have to have more occasions with fewer people. We are grateful, though, to all those who have joined us on 12th Night for these many years; all have been blessings in our lives.
One of the well-worn adages describing life is that the only constants are death and taxes. Most of us, if we could get an annual shot to ward off change, would get that shot, with no questions asked about side-effects. Coping with change requires energy and an optimistic attitude --- two things that many of us find in short supply. However, there are some adjustments I’d actually welcome into my life: less time spent on nit-picky things like returned mail (wrong address), fewer shirts that shrink an inch shorter after the first wash, fewer people who let things fall from their tongues without first thinking about consequences, and most important -- kinder and more tolerant thoughts going through my own mind. Change can be a good thing. One person in my family lives with frequent change; it seems to feed his spirit. Right now he is in Argentina, climbing a very high mountain in the Andes range. Often he is in some far-flung part of the world, with his camera, documenting life there. Even as I worry a bit about him, I admire his curiosity and courage ---- but, being more of a “nester”, have no desire to go and do likewise. My hope is that I can simply learn to welcome changes significant to my life, with grace, and trust that good things will happen as a result.
I’ve thought that my mother’s generation (1898 - 1993) had seen the most incredible changes. She moved from the horse and buggy to trolley cars to personally-owned cars to planes and computers. But our current weekly technological changes are just as dramatic. A new “smart phone” becomes obsolete just as quickly as an advanced model appears. There is considerable discussion about technology and what it does to people’s relationships and social lives. Has social media relegated actual coming together to the past? Do we know people as well via Face Book or Twitter as we might by chatting around the table? Do we fill our lives full with running around from task to task, contacting friends via texting and falling exhausted into our beds at night? It is easy and safe to socialize on the surface while being really cautious about “getting involved”. We probably should be experiencing more honest, face to face, relating. The following story is taken from a book by Madeleine L’Engle.
“This was a story about a Hassidic rabbi, renowned for his piety. He was unexpectedly confronted one day by one of his devoted, youthful disciples. In a burst of feeling, the young disciple exclaimed, ‘My master, I love you!’ The ancient teacher looked up from his books and asked his fervent disciple, ‘Do you know what hurts me, my son?’ The young man was puzzled. Composing himself, he stuttered, ‘I don’t understand your question, Rabbi. I am trying to tell you how much you mean to me, and you confuse me with irrelevant questions.’ ‘My question is neither confusing nor irrelevant,’ rejoined the rabbi. ‘For if you do not know what hurts me, how can you truly love me?’”*
We seldom take the time to know what hurts those around us. We can be helpful, we can hero-worship, we can preach to, we can feel sorry for, but until we become a sincere and caring part of someone’s life, there is no depth of love and no meaningful intercourse of ideas. This is something I need to examine in my own life ---- one of those less comfortable changes I might resist. I am grateful for the technological assists that keep me in touch with family and friends, but when it takes the place of face to face conversation, hugs and sharing of my time and energy, then it’s time to reconsider my priorities.
Today, as I look out on the snowy landscape, the birds are getting the last bits from the feeders; bits left by the deer who visit during the night. It has been nice to have two or three days in the balmy 30s and looking forward to Friday’s 48 degrees. . One of my favorite birds is the chickadee. This small bundle of feathers is energetic, optimistic and vocal --- no matter how wintery the weather. If only we could be similar, but I find myself more in tune with a saying by E.B. White** of “Charlotte’s Web” fame: “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” Winter weather does that too!! All sorts of good wishes go out with this for you and your January days and may your changes be ones you can welcome.
*Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle—1918-2007 – American writer of fiction and non-fiction.
**E.B. White – 1899-1985. American writer who produced several classic children’s books and was a contributor to the New Yorker magazine for 50 years.
Carol may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.