I always enjoy the irony of the “first day of Winter” – we’ve already had a near-record cold spell, stuff died! and we haven’t even got into Winter??!?
But, as all older people know, the beginning of Winter is really the beginning of the end of Winter. Every day after December 21 will be just that little bit longer, the sun will come closer, and the sky will get warmer.
Sheesh I used to hate January, it was my enemy. I follow the sun, even though it has burnt me beyond human recognition, like most lovers. That mid-winter darkness, and the cooooold that gets in your bones, really got to me. So I did what ancient people did – I turned to superstition. When I feel frightened, anxious, about events to come, I pile up some yard trimmings and I BURN! Fire is warm, it’s bright, and you don’t have to pay PG&E for it. So, I’m already working on my Solstice burn pile, cutting tree trimmings and breaking old dead sticks into a neat little teepee, about two feet high. I don’t need a “bonfire”, I just need a soft little flame, to warm my butt and hands, and toast a few marshmallows. Something that says, “Hey Old Man Winter, I ain’t afraid of you!”
For Christmas this year I bought my husband a bunch of seeds from a seed catalog. Now that we have our little plastic house we can start things from seed. I got him the usual stuff, but he also asked for flowers. Flowers have a lot of practical purpose – they really do bring the bees and birds that help your garden get along. But they also have a mental effect – right now, it does us good just to look at the pictures, and HOPE.
To one side of our garden we have what’s left of the dirt excavated when we cleaned up our house. The house we live in now was condemned, we had to tear it down before the insurance company would give us a policy. Then we had a nice man named Don Prine come in with his driver, Kenny, and clear the spot so we could rebuild. Kenny was a-MAY-zing. He moved like a ballet dancer in that Cat, because the tiny house had been right in the middle of the yard, surrounded by shrubberies and flowers. As he scraped up the excess dirt, he pushed the iris bulbs and other old flowers aside. When he had to tear them up, he deposited them in a neat little pile. The dirt he scraped up, he toted out to our back yard, where it still sits in a lump a little higher than my head.
For years my kids and dogs have run over it – my kids even used it to jump their BMX bikes, that drove me nuts. It has eroded to a fraction of itself, and now it looks like some sort of natural feature. This year, my husband and I have decided to adorn it with all kinds of flowers. We’ll use drought-resistant varieties. Besides the seeds from the catalog, I’ve got an old fishing tackle box full of various seeds, including California poppy, and I’ve just been waiting for time to do it. We’ll see what happens this year. We better get on it, because, you know, la Primavera esta a vuelta a la esquina – Spring is right around the corner.