Tuesday, December 30, 2008

goodbye, my lover

oak grove branches

I might be about to insult your musical tastes. I can't apologize, though, because making fun of that James Blunt song is such a running schtick around my house, between my husband and me, that I have chosen to believe it's just as funny to everyone. A couple of years ago, we happened, randomly and accidentally, on both the original airing and the rebroadcast of that song being performed on Saturday Night Live. And I swear there was another airing there, too. It seemed like any time we turned on the television there for a while, there was James Blunt crooning in falsetto. And maybe because it was as a musical guest on a sketch comedy show that I first heard the song, but I really did think it was a joke. It seemed so sappy and put on and really?

I mentioned elsewhere the other day that the recent local strange weather experience was so intense and now it's so *gone* it's a little, perhaps, like a quick, sultry love affair. So all-consuming while it lasts, but it never lasts.

We had 2 feet of snow on the ground, coinciding with Christmas, resulting in a subdued and strange holiday. It was beautiful, it was rare, it was eerie and odd and unsettling. I'm relieved for a return to normal, but I miss it. It's true.

The world sounded like cotton in my ears and everything was a little softer, glittering, hiding the ugly sharp edges. And from inside, watching the flakes fall, admiring the fluff covering every surface, was a wonder. Snow is magic. But we are ill-prepared, in this part of the country, for such a storm. And I worried for those lacking power, for those running out of food. We stayed warm and toasty, a fire, electricity, wool socks. I admit, though, that I am not accustomed to, and do not care for, the process of girding oneself against nature. It's so unusual here. It gets cold here in the Pacific Northwest, but not so cold where you feel this visceral response to the chill, this basic need to cover up to survive. The children suited up and it was such an event, the boots and the mittens and the coats. A hassle we have the luxury of living without, to that degree, almost always.

It was fun, though. There was a snow cave and so much shoveling and snowballs and angels and snow eaten w/ honey and molasses and pants drying by the fire and the amazement of seeing the flakes illuminated at night in the streetlight (that's my favorite thing, to see a tiny snowflake all lit up and then think how many of those tiny flakes it must take to make such drifts and piles everywhere).

It was such a huge part of our days there for a while -it was the only part of our days- so much that I didn't travel beyond our yard for long stretches, that we missed a few days of mail delivery. It was a big deal. And then the rain came back and the temperature rose and all of it melted. We have one last sad lump, the remains of my girl's snow cave, but everything else is gone. Was it really here? Did we really live so differently for a while?

Today I finally removed the Christmas tree from the living room to the driveway. I tasked the ornament packing-away to my daughter, but unwound the lights myself, generally a chore I dislike. But it was pleasant work. The tree, still so soft and supple and fragrant, I almost felt guilty taking it down. Christmas is over. It's time to say good-bye. I'm generally in such a hurry to pack it up and get it over with, but I took my time this year. We lowered the bar this time around and I have to say, it's nice having very low expectations because it's easy to exceed them. I didn't feel so desperate to be done with it, because it wasn't, in spite of all the reasons it ought to have been, a huge disappointment. It was a lovely day, with family and then friends. It was a rare weather experience, it was being warm and having full bellies, it was nothing spectacular, it was spectacularly plain, it was plainly just fine.

I'm ready for the coming of the sun, for the gradual increase to my days. I am grateful for these changing seasons, the better to remember life by, a measure of gauging our own rhythms. We're already moving on, the white was so quickly replaced by the regular green -such green!- and it's hard to be anywhere but right here, right now, taking whatever comes as best as we can.

Friday, December 19, 2008

little tree by e.e. cummings

little tree

little silent Christmas tree

you are so little

you are more like a flower

the girl bounds ahead

who found you in the green forest

and were you very sorry to come away?

see i will comfort you

because you smell so sweetly


i will kiss your cool bark

and hug you safe and tight

just as your mother would,

only don't be afraid

freshly cut

look the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,

the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,


put up your little arms

and i'll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won't a single place dark or unhappy

loaded up

then when you're quite dressed

you'll stand in the window for everyone to see

and how they'll stare!

oh but you'll be very proud

surprise fir cone inside

and my little sister and i will take hands

and looking up at our beautiful tree

we'll dance and sing

"Noel Noel"

living room with christmas tree

(this is my favorite christmas-time poem, i think. and maybe tomorrow. or the next day. or sometime before it's too late, i'll tell you what i think about christmas trees, and what i think about christmas, and what i think this time of year, this year and also, more generally).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

to whom it may concern

If you're the regularly dropping-by here sort, you might have seen the Dark and Dreary I had up for a few days. I pulled it down, though, because in an atypical re-read (which is to say, generally, what I write is off the cuff and I tend to forget about it later), I realized that I was attempting, not so successfully, to explain myself from beneath a cloud Desperation and my point was smudged and lacking.

The point is this: my husband's losing his job. This was to be his last full week at work, but, local weather being what it is (ice and snow and wind, oh my!) his hours are exceedingly numbered.

We are not in a unique situation, obviously. My worry, my uncertainty, my stalwart resolution to still, somehow, make this holiday season as sweet as it can be for my children, is the way it is for so many people this year. Times are rough. Times might get more rough.

I don't know how it's going to work, not any of it.

Not for me, not for you, not for our whole planet on the brink of something so completely unknown.

But, this is what I do know:
I know many hands make light work. I know I'm not alone.

I was feeling so low and slow and isolated, this morning, the whole last week. We suited up, the four of us, and tromped up to the hotel/restaurant/pub up the way for breakfast. For a change of pace, for something to do, for the reliable internet access. We'd been saving an old gift card for a snowy day, I guess. A gift card we got once when the restaurant had a problem with our order and gave us a card to compensate. It seemed like a good morning to break it out. We needed something.

We needed to come home and be reminded that people care. That even though I'm no good at sharing myself, at being available and vulnerable, that people still care.

I am humbled by the kindness of friends who know we're treading our way through rough waters and don't want us to sink under.

My world is a bit less bleak right now.
It's not the coffee in my belly or the fire crackling across the room or the magical white wonderland outside, it's knowing that I have enough stores to tread along for some time. It's trite to say we're all in this together, but it's true. And a little encouragement from friends can be just the boost you need.

I can navigate the space between Now and the New Year and be ready to hit the real work of What To Do Next without being so exhausted. I am humbled and grateful and glad for such kind gestures. Thank you.