I’m Not Ready

It is December, and nobody asked if I was ready. ~Sarah Kay (American poet)

earlyduskWPI’m not ready. I’m not ready for Christmas, I’m not ready for winter, I’m not ready to wake each morning into the dark and cold world of late December. This morning, I awoke to snow and bitter temperatures under a dark gray sky and murmured to Angel “I’m not ready.” She sighed a doggy sigh and snuggled closer, ready to dream some more and pulling me in her wake.

MusicTreeDetailIt is no wonder that Christmas and many other traditions celebrate this time of the year with lights. In the northern hemisphere, the light of dawn comes late and the fading light of dusk comes early. With so few daylight hours and so many of them gray and dark, the bold and hopeful lighting of many lights is necessary to the human spirit and a reminder that the days will soon grow longer.

 

This year, our unusually mild weather icybranchesWPhas allowed me to work in the garden deep into what is usually a cold snowy month. I’ve accomplished garden chores that often get delayed until spring – the leaves gathered and shredded, the trees and shrubs pruned, the summer soil from the pots emptied into the woodland’s edge for building new beds. I’ve already planned next year’s garden – the seeds to start, the plants to order, the perennials to propagate. In fact, it is focusing on next year’s garden that has softened the sting of the coming of winter.

frostyspruceWPThe effects of El Niño are predicted to extend our weather into a long mild winter here in the mid-Atlantic states. It may be global warming, it may be a temporary weather pattern, but whatever it is, I admit that I will welcome a mild winter after the severe weather conditions that have prevailed for the past few years.

I’m cutting branches of pine and holly to decorate the house, I’ve strung many lights on the tree, and I’m planning the Christmas feast for our family, but in my heart, it is all about garden dreams – the return of nature’s light and warmth and new growth. Winter is about endurance of the cold and dark, spring is about the renewal of life. Today, I dream of sugarplums and spring flowers. Here’s to the return of light to the world and to your life- may you be ready for whatever comes.

christmaslightWP

December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory… ~John Geddes

The Lion Roars

March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb. (old proverb)

Zelda sleeps The month of March has carried the winter banner forward – snow, a bit of rain, and more snow. Bitter temperatures come and go – at least the garden is covered by a deep layer of snow, tucked in safely for the season. For most of us in North America, the winter has been long and difficult and I, at least, long for the return of spring.

Whiteout in the woodsThe garden is asleep, as witnessed by Zelda peering out from her wintry cap. (here is Zelda in warmer times) Snow whiteouts have become common, spectacular and ghost-like. The world is gray and white and brown but I am dreaming of color. To satisfy my need for the hues and vibrancy of the garden, I have begun spending the first hour of each day watching YouTube garden videos. They remind me that the garden season is not so far away and I am inspired to plant seeds, propagate plants, and dream of the days to come.

I am looking forward to the “out like a lamb” part of March. Warmer weather is predicted next week, so perhaps spring really is at hand. In the meantime, winter, however unwelcome, is still a beautiful season. (All images ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

The March wind roars like a lion in the sky,
And makes us shiver as he passes by.
When winds are soft, and the days are warm and clear,
Just like a gentle lamb, then spring is here. ~Anonymous

What the Storm Brought

  • mounds of snow
  • playtime with Angel Eyes
  • breathtaking winter scenes
  • warmer weather and a thaw
  • the last snow storm of the year?

I woke up to a winter wonderland in March, every twig and bough coated with snow. By this afternoon, most of the six inches of snow was melting away. Ephemeral beauty; a black and white world in color.

Quiet, not Silence

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all ~ Emily Dickinson

moonThe silence this morning was deafening. The dark days are upon us in the northern hemisphere – each bright day shrinking, each dark night expanding, until the solstice shifts the tide in a few weeks.  A full moon and its subsequent reduced appearances have awakened me each morning long before daylight.  I admit to a modest glass of chardonnay sipped yesterday morning at 5:30 A.M. – the moon was so bright that I couldn’t sleep, it seemed more like night than morning, and so I paid homage to its lingering light. Balanced on the edge of night and morning on an unseasonably warm night, the moon and stars ruled the pre-dawn sky.

This morning, however, the moon had already set and I stood in the dark before dawn, with no dawn “chorus.” A moist and silent cloud of dampness filled the air – no birds, no insects, no creature noises filled the void, only a distant hum of traffic.  Who is up and about at 5:30 A.M.?  And so a damp cloak of emptiness became a shroud of sorts.  I can do without sunlight but can I live in a silent world?  Isn’t that the real nightmare of the imagined apocalypse? Not the visual destruction but the absence of sound?

Now, at noon, a dozen birds have added their voices to the world.  Bluejays, cardinals, sparrows, woodpeckers, and hawks all spin their songs around me as Angel and I venture into the woods.  It is a comfort, to know that stillness and silence may dwell within but the murmur of the natural world goes on, each voice in its perfect place in nature’s orchestra. I sigh and something inside, a tight kernel of fear and tension, relaxes and dissolves.  I take a deep breath and enjoy the quiet murmur of nature’s world around me, every sound, every voice, every song present and accounted for.  All is well, and if it is quiet, that is the way of things in nature in this season.

Why most birds don’t sing in winter

And birds singing in winter.

Waters of March (Águas de Março)

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It’s the promise of life, it’s the joy in your heart – from “Waters of March” by Antonio Carlos Jobim

The Waters of March (Águas de Março ), written by Antonio Carlos Jobim,  reflects the end of summer, which is March in Brazil.  For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it suggests the beginning of spring, “the promise of life in your heart”.

March is here and is it full of the promise of life. As I bend again and again to weed and clear the detritus of winter and uncover the emerging blooms and greening leaves, I hear in my mind the lovely repetitive melody of this sensuous and philosophical song by Jobim, the composer and musician who made Brazilian music accessible to the rest of the planet.

The Waters of March was originally intended to list the passages and events of life that flow and ebb and culminate in the waters of March, a stormy and wet time at the end of summer in the southern hemisphere of Brazil.  In the northern hemisphere, March is also stormy and wet but also the beginning rather than the end of the growing season. As the rain and storms bring us green leaves, bird song, and early blooms, we can consider the beauty of the song and the reality of nature’s astonishing gifts of blossom and promise.  Here are a few images of new life in my garden this week, a stream of life in the waters of March.

“It’s the promise of life in your heart”

The original song sung by Brazilian singer Elis Regina and Jobim, with English subtitles, slow to load but worth watching.

A video of a recording session with Regina and Jobim in an Argentian production that is evidence of pure joy and utter musical communication.

Al Jarreau and Oleta Adams in a very lush and sexy version of Waters of March.

The written lyrics of Waters of March – Portugeuse and English

All images ©2012 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved