Monday, December 17, 2012

Best of Times/Worst of Times

The holiday season is a time of joy and misery. The joy, I find, is mostly for children. Churches try to convince us that the anniversary of the birth of the Christ child should make us rejoice. But we who are aging remember the good times when our loved ones were still alive and often find rejoicing difficult. And so December is a depressing month for many and this one has been no exception. Then last week happened and the depression became horror as we heard of mass murders in our own country: children gunned down. Everyone is asking why. Perhaps the soul searching of a nation in grief will have some good come from it: reasonable gun laws, improved mental health monitoring and care, and maybe even a reduction in video game and movie violence. "Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished," to quote Shakespeare. But snuffed out lives will not come back.

However, as a born optimist, I can't stay down for long. My methods of climbing out of the pit are many: signing all the petitions circulating to ask Congress to get their act together and pass sensible gun legislation helps me feel like I'm contributing something to the solution; answering Christmas cards and letters (since I never get around to sending Christmas cards ahead of time) helps me feel in touch with friends and family (while they're still alive); riding my horse gives me joy and keeps me from thinking about anything but what I'm doing... (the form here is lousy but boy were we having fun!)...

Just walking in the woods is a type of meditation for me.

Here's from a walk in our woods:

And planting trees... oh how I love planting trees. Some that I had ordered arrived last week. I happily dug holes in the muck and plopped in the poor, unsuspecting baby trees. I hope they live. Then I circled them with big rocks to foil gophers and my lawnmower next summer. I've ordered more to come in January and also February. I like having something to look forward to... tree planting, birdwatching, riding my horse.

Birdwatching... well, that's a daily activity. But I was especially looking forward to the Christmas Bird Count that takes place just up in the hills above us. It's a time when I walk through the wildness and breathe in freedom and beauty. And it was supposed to happen today.

However, last night a horrendous wind storm hit and the count leader decided it was too dangerous to send people up into the woods with trees likely falling every which way. Hopefully, the count will happen yet before the end of the Christmas count season. Meanwhile, Johnny and I drove up to our sector of the count circle today, after the wind died down, to see if there were trees across our roads. There were. One of them is now inside the van in manageable pieces. And there was snow. Enough that we had to put on chains. But in places so little that we took off chains. Then put them back on. Then off.

"We" was really Johnny and he is very tired tonight. Here's the scene where "we" first put on chains. (Obviously, I was operating the camera, not the chains.)

 Very soon now, the days will begin to lengthen: light will start overcoming darkness. I try to push the darkness out early by lighting up the greenhouse and front yard with holiday lights. Alas, I have yet to figure out how to photograph the lights. If I do it with a flash, you see greenery and not lights. If I do it without the flash, it looks like the place is on fire.

I hope everyone can find something to look forward to as the light begins to return. May the Solstice bring light and healing to all.

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