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It is that time of year when I take my slouch hat off its peg, step into my old green Wellies, head out into the garden, and contemplate shallow graves.

Last week, heavy winds cracked a twenty-foot long limb on the windward side of my blue spruce. As the limb fell the fifty or so feet to the ground, it took three lower limbs with it, all landing with a surprisingly hushed whump amongst the periwinkle. Sadly, one of the falling dead took half of a Japanese maple with it, but thankfully the maple, like the spruce, will survive.

This week, while the wind and snow and rain took a well-deserved breather, I donned my gear—the aforementioned slouch hat and Wellies, plus a billhook, machete, and saw—and made my first foray of the year out into the gardens to address the damage.

My garden in winter is not a lush thing. Though greenery still abides—the mostly moss-green lawn, the leathery green of the swordleaf ferns, the deep green of the periwinkles, and the blue-green of spruce and noble fir—on the whole the garden is spare and somewhat barren. The maples, the fruit trees, the ash and sweetgum, the lilac and willow, they all stand naked and unadorned. Remnants of last year’s blooms—gooseneck, crocosmia, spirea, and rose—huddle with their kind, shriveled and brown, ready for my pruner’s knife. And this year, of course, there was also the pile of timber that the southwesterly gales had so unkindly sent down from the canopy.

As I worked, wielding my blades, hacking branches from limbs, twigs from branches, my thoughts wandered and it struck me that though I usually think of my winter garden as a place of stasis, of rest and preparation, in truth it is more a place of death. My winter garden, amid the snows and rains and gusts of wind, is a locus of liminality where the world waits, caught between one life and the next, existing in both and in neither. All that was of the Year Gone By now lies in a shallow, leaf-strewn grave, ready to rot and return to the earth, while the Year To Come lies ready to burst forth from that very same earth, grave and cradle both.

My New Year’s Eve is not the chimes at midnight, the fireworks’ boom, the pop of champagne. This is my New Year’s Eve, this long turning-over, this slow walk from yesterday into tomorrow, when I can bury the mistakes of my past in the hopes of reaping the future wisdom that grows from their bones.

Life is a cycle, of birth and of death, but life is also cycles within that cycle, patterns within patterns, an intricate and delicate complexity that forms our years, our days, our breaths, the beating of our heart.

It’s not just a garden.

It never was just a garden.

k

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thoughts upon thoughts
memories upon memories

last week
I remembered
the day we met

yesterday
I remembered
the day when I remembered
the day we met

this morning
I remember remembering
that I remembered
the day we met

now
I hold infinity in my mind
remembering all my 
rememberings
past and future
of the day we met
from that first moment
to the end of time

memories upon memories
thoughts upon thoughts


January 29, 1982, 7:29PM PT

k

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The 2000-oughts and -teens have been a Spartan period, where society repeatedly pared and trimmed and shaved away at norms, ushering out elements deemed unnecessary in favor of brutal efficiencies and ever-more-draconian austerity plans.

I am, of course, speaking of typography. (more…)

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Today
I celebrate an age
I never thought I’d see
and reflect on those moments
when my river’s course
was shifted from its banks
by

arrivals
departures
separations
reunions

by decisions

to love
to hate
to forgive
to survive

Today,
I am the sum of

every decision
every event
every question
every answer

But that sum is fluid
affected by even 
the smallest breeze
the least drop of rain

For even now
as these words pass
before your eyes
you join me
in my story
and change
the tally
of my life

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The final week of this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has been a mixed bag. Overall, I have to say I’m pleased with the experiment. Using NaNoWriMo as a way to simply increase my productivity has proved a much better approach (for me) than setting some unrealistic (for me) word-count goal. (more…)

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Week Three of NaNoWriMo has been productive. Sort of.

At the end of last week, I was facing a scene I’ve been dreading for a long time. A sex scene.

I hate writing sex scenes. (more…)

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My second week of NaNoWriMo went better than my first, and there’s a reason for that (apart from my getting back into the flow of writing, that is).

Like many writers, I’ve often used a soundtrack to set an audio foundation for my writing time. A soundtrack can do two things. First, it can set a consistent mood that underpins the prose as I write, and second, it can help block out the sounds of the real world and allow me to concentrate more fully on the world I’m trying to get out of my head. (On the downside, it can also ruin a particular album/artist, as eventually, due to repetition and earworms, I grow sick of what I’m listening to.) (more…)

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