I was chatting with a young technician at my local hospital recently, and I asked her if she gardens. “Yes,” she said. She was just getting started, loved lilies and had planted several. "Oriental, Asiatic, or Daylilies,” I asked.
My Mom, if she’d been born in a different era, might have been a candidate for the DACA program. A Dreamer. She was born of German parents in Saskatchewan in 1916. Sometime around 1920 the family crossed the border and headed east. I don’t believe they had work permits or visas. They just came to America to have a better life.
As we approach the shortest day of the year I look forward to an annual solstice party held by friends. They gather scrap wood and old pallets to prepare for a serious bonfire. Then they invite friends from near and far to join together, share a meal and imbibe some good cheer. My friends also provide paper and pens to write down any accumulated resentments, anger and frustrations that we then toss into the roaring fire and rejoice in a fresh start.
I’ll have to admit I was as shocked as anyone at the outcome of this election. I’m an aging liberal who voted straight socialist in my first election. At the time I was teaching in Jersey City at Public School #22, and the year was 1968. I was fed up with politics as usual, party machines and I wanted change! And now that I think about it, maybe if I’d come of age this year, I would have turned to Trump after Bernie got beaten – but I rather doubt it.
Life is full of uncertainty, but I refuse to limit my activities just because there’s the possibility of danger. After all, I could get hit by a car driven by a texting teen while I’m walking to the post office. Or I could simply fall down a set of stairs and end up like Humpty Dumpty. So I’m not about to deny myself the joys and learning experiences of travel – especially to France – one of my favorite places to visit.
Ten or fifteen years ago I planted three willows on the other side of my small brook. They’re a variety called Hakuru-Nashiki. They only grow to be about fifteen feet tall and wide, and have leaves with pink, white and green in the early summer. Mine grew together into one huge clump.
I was off gallivanting this year from mid-September till mid-October. I’d done my best to clean up my gardens before I left, knowing that we often have snow by mid-October. Truth be known, I didn’t do a very good job. But this year it really didn’t matter. Two months after my return the ground is still not frozen, and I continue to cut back flowers, pull weeds and harvest carrots, radishes and kale.
Despite the stretch of warm days we’ve had this fall, winter’s just around the corner. And even though I love skiing and snowshoeing, I dread the short days and frequent lack of sunshine. Cold, gray days with mixed precipitation make being outdoors less than inviting.
December has all too many gray days. Days when the sun doesn’t shine, or makes only a token appearance. I like sunny days, or even snowy days. But not gray and drizzly days. I do my best to combat gloominess in a number of ways.
Spring is here and I’m thinking about my garden and life beginning anew outdoors. But I also lost a friend recently so I’m not only thinking about new beginnings, I’ve also been thinking about the past. I recognize that with the passing of each friend or relative, I lose a rich source of memory to supplement my own. What I think of as our “collective memory” is diminished each time someone passes, so I try all the harder to refresh and remember shared experiences – and to keep in touch with distant friends.
As we plowed our way into April this year, it seemed like everyone I met at the grocery store – whether a millennial or an octogenarian - was saying essentially the same thing: “Wow. This winter was like the ones we had when I was a kid - with amazing snow and cold.” And I was perfectly happy to have it so, largely because I enjoy skiing, but also because I believe it will reduce the number of pests in the garden this summer.
It occurred to me recently, as I was contemplating what to serve on Thanksgiving Day, that there was no refrigeration back in the days of the pilgrims. There were no 18-wheelers bring carrots from California or frozen turkeys from Texas. Although I have freezers and refrigerators, I may do things more like the Pilgrims than the average American. And it’s easy.