Posted tagged ‘bare trees’

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”

December 6, 2015

It is 51˚. The sun is winter bright. The privacy of summer is gone. The trees are so bare I can see the neighbors’ houses and they mine. A breeze chills rather than cools the air. Old Man Winter may not be here quite yet, but there are signs that he’s waiting impatiently in the wings.

When I was a kid, I always wanted a white Christmas because of Santa. I never saw him pictured flying over houses with green lawns. He always traveled in the snow. Reindeer too belonged in the snow. They lived way up north in the Arctic Circle, and any picture I had ever seen of the Arctic Circle always had snow. I remember Eskimos wearing jackets and thick mittens covered with fur when they harnessed their dogs to their sleds. Christmas needed snow.

We had a nativity set made of chalkware. It had all the necessary figures: kings, shepherds, animals including a donkey and a couple of sheep, Mary, Joseph and the Baby. The stable was wooden and had pieces of hay around as if real animals lived there. Over the years the chalkware chipped. Shepherds were missing noses and just about every other piece had a chip or two. It never mattered. Out came that nativity set every year. I remember the Baby had outstretched arms and was sleeping on what appeared to be swaddling clothes though I didn’t know what swaddling meant until I was a little older. My sister has that set now.

 I always think each new Christmas stays connected to all the other Christmases of our past. My mother made decorated sugar cookies and so do we. I even use some of the cookie cutters she had. If I make a pie, it will be lemon meringue, not usually a Christmas pie, but it was one we all loved so my mother made it. I put old ornaments on the tree and one of those old big ones way up high because that’s where my mother would hang it for safety’s sake.

Christmas is wrapped up in family. Traditions are passed down from one generation to another and along the way new traditions are added. They connect us across the years. In every Christmas I see my mother. That is one of the joys of the season.

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.”

October 30, 2015

Mother Nature has blessed us with another lovely day. Though not as warm as yesterday, it is still in the high 50’s, breezy and sunny. Every time the breeze blows more leaves fall and the trees become barer. I kept the front door opened and stood for a while watching the leaves flying and twirling in miniature eddies. I can see my neighbor’s deck for the first time since the beginning of summer. Fall has begun its annual wrap up to make way for winter.

I have never had the urge to go south for the winter. I am a New Englander who abides all four seasons. Admittedly, winter is my least favorite for the cold, not the snow. Ever since I was a little kid I have loved snow. I’d stand at the picture window, my head resting on my hands bent at the elbows, and watch the snow fall lit by the streetlight below my house. I could see individual flakes in the light. Sometimes they fell sideways blown by the wind. The street would disappear. I’d see the hand-rail but not the steps which led to the sidewalk now buried under snow. My father’s car was a mound of snow. When it was time, I’d go to bed hoping for a snow day, hoping to hear the whistle blasts from the fire station announcing no school. That would give me a whole day to play in the snow, to sled down the hill and to have a snowball fight.

I still love watching the snow. I go from front door to back door to see how much has fallen. My deck disappears and sometimes I can’t get the door open. I worry for poor Gracie who tries to get out but the snow is too deep for her. Sometimes I brush away enough for her to get right outside the door where she barely squats before running right back into the house.

The morning after a snowstorm, before the plows and shovelers, is always beautiful. The snows glints in the sun like diamonds. Everyone is still housebound and the snow lies untouched. It is why I stay here in the water.

“Autumn is the hush before winter. “

November 16, 2013

Last night I went to bed early, my early around 10, and slept in this morning until 9. My back feels much better so a day of doing nothing and a good night’s sleep did the trick; of course, a day of doing nothing isn’t novel to me. I am a lover of sloth days and never need a reason to enjoy one.

Yesterday, in the late afternoon, I went outside to the deck. The air had the unmistakable smell of fall. It was earthy but not like in spring when the garden smells of newness. It was the smell of brown leaves on the ground slowly rotting away. Musky might be the better description. I didn’t need to see Gracie. I could hear the sounds of her paws as she ran on the crispy leaves under the trees and I knew exactly where she was. Leaves cover the back of the deck, the part under the trees, and I kicked a few over the side. I could have been eight or nine again and kicking the leaves      piled beside the sidewalk’s gutters. Yesterday’s leaves separated and flew to the ground, two stories below the deck. I could see my neighbor’s house and my friends’ house at the end of the street though the bare trees. The privacy brought by leafy trees is gone now until late in spring. A few birds ignored me and stayed at the feeders, mostly gold finches. I saw a woodpecker at the suet feeder. He has to eat upside down and doesn’t seem to mind. The thistle feeders had three or four gold finches all at one time. They don’t like to share on the big feeder but they don’t seem to mind sharing thistle. I cleaned out the bird bath of its leaves and pine needles then went inside the house. Gracie stayed outside.

I haven’t anything to do. There’s clean laundry to bring up but one more day won’t hurt; wrinkled is wrinkled. I have amassed a mountain size pile of catalogues so I think I’ll go Christmas shopping. The day is cloudy and uninviting so inside is the perfect place to spend the day. I feel good today about me and the day.

“I like the way my own feet smell. I love to smell my sneakers when I take them off.”

October 28, 2013

Today is another lovely fall day with lots of sunshine and a pale blue sky. It got cold last night and was 38˚ by the time I went to bed around 2 am. I watched the Red Sox-Cardinals game which didn’t end until late, and when that happens, I am seldom tired enough for bed. The ending of that game was another strange one: a pick-off at first. Who is foolish enough to get picked off at the bottom of the ninth with two outs, your team losing, but Beltrane at bat? Why a rookie, of course, is the answer. The series is now tied 2-2 with a game tonight in St. Louis then a return to Boston. This series is killing me with its late nights, close games and weird calls.

This morning I stood by the window while the coffee was brewing. I watched dead leaves fall off the big oak tree onto the deck. It was sort of sad in a way. Those leaves had hidden my deck from the neighbors all summer. When I was sitting there, I felt as if I were in a tree house surrounded by green leaves and full boughs. Now I can see almost all the way down to the end of the street from my deck. My friend Clare will soon enough be able to see my den window and know when I’m still awake late at night. The light shines brightly.

When I was in the seventh and eighth grade, I played CYO basketball. That was in the days of weird girls’ basketball rules. I was a guard, and I could only stay on one half of the court. I could bounce the basketball three times but then I had to pass it. Only the forwards could score. I had one trick in my arsenal, and that was I could throw the ball full court. One forward would stay by our basket hoping not to be noticed, and when I got the ball, it went to her and she always scored. That was usually good for a few baskets before the other team guarded her and kept her from the basket. Our coach was a former marine, a former female marine, and she was tough. She didn’t have a warm, fuzzy bone in her body. Every instruction sounded like a command, and we obeyed. In practice, she had a mean whistle which she’d blow then she’d point at the offender. My greatest wish was always that she was pointing at someone else. She made us wear high top sneakers which only came in black back then. I remember there was a circle on the outside of each sneaker and inside the circle was the word Converse. We were always the only team with high tops. All the others had white sneakers, girly white sneakers with pointed toes. We didn’t really care when playing basketball, but we never wore those sneakers anywhere else. They were, after all, boys’ sneakers.

Many, many years later colorful high top sneakers with Converse in the circle on the side became a rage. I bought a pair in bright pink and another pair in purple. Those sneakers had stopped being boys’ sneakers. They had become an element of style. When I organized my closet a while back, I found those sneakers, both pairs. I still think they are really cool. I’m partial to the pink.

“Autumn flings her fiery cloak over the sumac, beech and oak.”

October 7, 2013

The weather is quirky. One minute it is dark and gray then the next is sunny. The house is cold while outside is warm. Showers are predicted for later. On my way to breakfast, I noticed many leaves had fallen. Piles of yellow were on the road and sidewalks. I thought it strange. Many trees have yet to change color while others are almost bare. My oak is still green.

Nothing was more enticing than the piles of leaves in the gutters next to the sidewalk curbs on my way to school. I’d kick through the piles and spread leaves all over the side of the road. The dry leaves on the bottom made a crunching sound while the newest fallen leaves on the top always seemed a bit damp and filled with morning. Most of them were yellow leaves. The trees were spaced beside the sidewalk edge. In summer the sidewalk was shady; in winter it was bare and open to the wind. The sidewalk was a straightaway to school. From the top of the small hill I could see to the railroad tracks and once there I could see the front lawn of the school building, but I couldn’t see the statue. It was too far off the road. I never minded that walk except when it rained. That was when the straightway seemed to go on forever. If I had known how perfectly descriptive a word it was, I would have said I plodded my way home.

The Cape has few sidewalks. Only the oldest parts of some towns seem to have them. My town has a few which slope and have cracks. None of them have curbs. No one kicks leaves.

I remember my dad and all the other dads standing on the side of the road near the curb burning piles of leaves. By then the leaves were curled and brown. They burned easily. All of us kids stood near the fires and watched. Our clothes afterwards smelled of fire and burning leaves. It is still one of my favorite smells, one of my favorite memories.

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