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Posts Tagged ‘new year’s eve’

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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Femme VoiléeI did not wind the clocks this month. They tick down to silence, measuring out the year’s last hours with ponderous chimes.

This New Year’s Eve, the house will be quiet.

No television. No dropping ball. No music. No crowds.

No friends. No crackling fire. No pop of effervescent wine. No clink of crystal. Not even the ticking of a clock.

All will be silent, and I will sit on the stoop in the frost-rimed dark beneath the moonless sky and will wait.

Listening.

I want to hear it, you see, and want no other sound to interfere.

I want to hear this obscene alliance of Time and Death, this year that has gorged itself on family, friends, and icons, that has snuffed out lights of culture, killed dreams, thwarted hope, I want to hear it die.

As it lays before me, I will kneel at its side. I will lean into its abattoir scent, my ear close to its gasping mouth. I will hear as it exhales its final breath into the void.

And if it does not come, if at that silent stroke of twelve this baleful year somehow breathes on, then as I ring in the New Year, I shall wring out the old, my hands around its throat.

This year shall end, if I have to do it myself.

k

Typewriter

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