We’re in this together, whatever kind of sacred holiday or year-end remembrance we might have just marked. As the year’s last short days go swirling down Time’s drain, I think we all sense and see the same things.
Watch with me now as I look out the window of this second-story room:
Five feet from where I stand, a squirrel quivers along the branches of the hawthorn tree I planted long and long ago. He is searching for the last of its bright red berries. He will be disappointed, for by now they have been eaten by his fellow creatures, each and every one.
Across the street I see the pale blush of frost on the pointed gables of our neighbors’ roof and a thin plume of smoke ribboning up from their chimney; and the image so resembles a child’s drawing of a house with roof, smoke and chimney that I just have to smile.
And speaking of children, does not the path back to our own childhoods not seem shorter just now?
Remember what it felt like to make snow angels, lying flat in that feather-bed of frozen crystals as we windmilled our arms and legs?
Remember when, in elementary school on that final day before the Christmas break, we brought little gifts to our teacher? I gave a handkerchief to Miss Lester, with her initials embroidered crookedly onto one corner, my first attempt at needlework. Though it looked less like a monogram than a wobbly scribble of scar tissue, for all her sternness, she blushed and smiled almost shyly at the sight of the wrapped package.
Remember more with me now.: Remember how it felt to pull on scratchy wool mittens. If our memories go back that far, we might remember the elasticized clasps that held those mittens to the arms of our snowsuits.
Remember our mothers or fathers helping us dress the rest of the way to go outside, then patiently undressing again when we came back in again, with snow crusted on our boots’ cuffs and sometimes actually filling the boots themselves, leaving our toes so numb we thought we would never have feeling again.
There’s so much to reflect on when we look back. Consider the remembered sight of your folks’ bowed heads as they worked to perform these chores, and reflect on that fact that they were younger at that point than you are now, you former child, you who are a child still, on the inside anyway.
Now I’m looking out the window again as darkness again enfolds us.
Science says the sun has no surface at all, but consists wholly of a snapping undulation of fiery gases, and Science is right no doubt, but I like to think of the sun another way. I like to think of ‘him’ as a benevolent figure watching us from afar as we spin and wobble around him like a toy top. And like a top, we tilt, and in our tilting lean away from his warmth and light a while.
But starting this week we begin leaning back again, closer and closer to the longer and the warmer days and further and further from these long, long nights. There is beauty in these nights but ah: iff only Time could perform such magic as that and set us down once more in the little snow globe of our childhood winters!