I apologize to you winter. I kept waiting for your return, you were here just a few days ago – ice in the birdbath, citrus tree fatalities, howling north winds and clear night skies but you never returned, so I cut the grass. I felt bad doing it because I know the leaves are there for a reason, protecting the St Augustine and I know there are many small creatures nesting amongst those remnants of autumn but you never showed up to complete your job, the grass is growing in January! My usual meter to anticipate spring is hearts and chocolate… Valentine’s Day, not mid-winter.
I can faintly hear you as you feebly send the easterly winds through the fireplace rattling the fireboard a bit. As I listen, I think maybe you will return in February. I hope so, for you have much work left to do. I will wait for the groundhog to decide.
In the meantime, I cut the green grass and noticed something. It seems to me, when a tree is nearing the end of its life, old fruit trees specifically, I find another tree growing alongside of it, usually an oak tree, a native tree, put there by the wind or the birds. It’s as though Nature knows of the impending death and fills that soon to be available spot. I have many examples of that in my yard, places where fruit trees have come and gone and a sturdy little oak tree is ready to fill its spot. Nature knows all.
January wind I hear you at the backdoor, you are almost gone now…already.
I went outside this morning to pick the tens of oranges that the east winds blew from my trees and I could hear baby birds…the wayward winds and baby birds … confusion in the atmosphere, seems more like March?
By my own direction, I have baby chicks in the laundry room in late January, a bit early but I was anxious. I picked them up at the United States Post Office last week. I had 8 Ameraucanas– the Easter Egg Chicks – that I ordered and 5 little roosters that just came along for the ride here from east Texas. It is a cruel thing to think of but, the little female chicks are what I buy, for the eggs they will eventually lay, and the company packs a few free roosters in the box to keep the females warm. Oh my! Where is the justice in that? Hmmm…
Anyway, Nature is for real and sometimes it seems cruel and unfair – she does not concern herself with being politically correct – she leaves that to all of us.
I have only 6 of the 8 Ameraucanas left and 3 of the 5 roosters. It seems that during the night, when they are huddled together under the light, seemingly as one united flock, one will get stepped on and once the chick is down, once it is vulnerable, the rest have no problem continuing to step on it until the little chick dies, usually a slow death. It is a very cruel display of Nature, one of several that I have seen for the 20 plus years I have raised chickens. They will even begin to peck on the smallest chicken – pecking order, the original bullying?
I have learned so much from watching this simple animal. They have given me an insight into the darkness and the pureness of nature. What halts this barbaric treatment I write of, is the growth and maturity of the little chicks. I am very attentive (hence, a box in my laundry room) to constantly supply them with food and fresh water to assist or even hasten their growth so they can become strong enough to take good care of their selves and survive. The more care they get, the more they grow. On the other hand, the harsher the treatment, the more brutal the outcome. Wish me luck and hope that most survive to flourish and lay eggs in late summer.
Peace and Love
Maybe this is my life now. Maybe my day should be filled with modest daily chores, small ones like dishes washed with geranium scented soap and clean sheets on the line and (always) time for the garden and art and sometimes filling my kitchen with the scent of lemon drop cookies or cinnamon.
Maybe this is when I let go. I let go of the daily routine that can be a “job”, I let go of want and preoccupation of anything material, I let go of the mindset that I have control over anyone’s thinking and with that release, I judiciously welcome anyone’s disagreement with mine, for they too are their own captains. I let go of some of the lofty goals set in my youth, they are a burden to me now- pressure to perform, desire to acquire, battles to “win”. I have no capacity for that, which went with youth, that inescapable naiveté fueled by innocence, I let that go, gladly.
All that has happened before has had its place in my life, a paramount place, but now the winds have changed, they are gentler and filled with whispers of wisdom and I make the time to listen. The outside noises have become less audible and I mostly hear the sounds inside of my own head, those are the words I adhere to, not the others, not the propaganda. I also hear the humming of people from my past, just a few words here and there that have stayed with me and I keep those close to recall. And, always, I hear the voices of my children, grown now and on their own paths, paths strewn with my prayers and wishes for happy lives. It is a delightful place this age of mine, I am adjusting and embracing with a ways to go, but soon I will see clearly.
It’s the smell of home. It’s here. I don’t know if it is the winter day that hoovers over head and brings in heavy air, but “it” is here, finally. I remember it at my parent’s house, that smell from outside that mixed with inside and all of our stuff and all of our lives and whiffs of it made it “home” forever.
This house, this old house, causes me despair sometimes. It always needs something – a roof, a floor, a can of paint, always something. Sometimes I think of leaving it for something new, but, then, today happens and I am caught in its spell again. The spell that only time can create and the place that only this place can be. I know I am a sentimental sap and sometimes I do not like that about myself but most times I welcome this part of my nature, this part that makes me the keeper of memories.
This cold day will fall into a colder night that might freeze the oranges on my trees. It will become a night that allows me to think of things that are little, to visit the places the sunshine blinds me from, those places that only appear in the flames of the fireplace when the wind wails and the dampness seeps in, those places in winter that somehow make us reflective and a bit melancholy as idle thoughts drift to yesterdays. I suppose it is as it should be, this tilt of the planet that keeps us inside and makes us slow down a bit to remember and reflect, to break away.
The tea kettle is nearly empty from the day, the fire needs tending and this old house smells like home.