Poor Will's Almanack: December 10 -16, 2013

Dec 10, 2013

Credit Flickr Creative Commons user GenBug

My windows look out onto a new geometry of bare locust, hackberry, mulberry and walnut branches. The houses next to me intrude again, the hermitage barrier of forsythia and honeysuckles thinned. The sounds of the cars (and the sounds of time between the cars) become clear, unfiltered by foliage.

When I go out to walk Bella, my border collie, in the middle of the morning, I find bittersweet fruit fallen to the sidewalk. When I look at its vine tangled above me in the maple, all the red berries appear inside their spreading hulls.

In the woods, garlic mustard has grown tall, its leaves wide and bright. Sleek skunk cabbage protrudes, speckled purple, all over the swamp, some plants even opening just a little: dark eyes of March peering out at me.

At home I haven’t raked the grass; green glows through, widens as the leaves decay. The gray fruit of the New England asters cedes to finches. The phlox plants are already empty, pointed, lanky sepals curling.

I am already counting days to spring, attempting to shrink the time ahead: Thirty-five days to solstice, sixty-five to the center of the season of snow, one hundred to the first hours of snowdrops. A divided, finite winter is already in my hand. Soon it will seem too short for retreat and recollection, the hibernation not long enough. Grieving for summer and autumn comes apart in the cold. I look for what is promised instead of what is gone.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the Second Week of early winter. In the meantime, count the promises, the hours to snowdrops.