Monday, December 22, 2008

A Trip to Xmas Town

There is a kind of melancholy to the sight of a late afternoon vista of broken trees, brush and snow, lots of snow piled on everything. Like that good Russian doctor I heave a heavy sigh and turn away from the window. My toes get cold just looking at it. And yet, I still find myself strapping on the old snowshoes and stomping out to maybe check the suet feeders, or the water in the hen house. I hate the idea of those birds having no water on a day like today. It's so cold the crystal in the air have hit and mixed to form froth and tinkly lights against the flat white of snow. Maybe the tinkly lights are a bit more than my frontal lobe can take. That's why I have no problem with a grey overcast day. That's a simple color palette I can handle. But when the clouds part and the western sun peeks through, shining across the jet black asphalt, the ivory banks, then tumbling down to the stream at the culvert. You keep the colors simple and you have so many options.

Imagine, if you will, a spot of burnt umber, about an inch across. You can lift your head, incline your eyes and see that spot, right over there. It is something you might not have noticed, but the angle of the sun made all the other branches and leaves go a different color. It reminds one of a large fig or something, just balancing on the twig. But then you see it, the bright orange beak. It's a female cardinal. She turns and looks at you even though you think the room you're in is sufficiently dark to hide you, the bird looks at you. Stop breathing, don't move, just stare back.

You blink.

She's gone.

Now imagine that everything you see is a part of a 360 degree mural, roof and floor. It is of a scene from within or just below a huge thunderhead cloud, dark and flashing. Below you is about 4 thousand feet of open air, mostly, and then part of Northumberland fine dairy district, notably the fields apparently beneath your feet. It's hard, isn't it? Not to try to grab a piece of that cloud to avoid falling down to the fields? Just don't move until you understand something about your world. First, it's all around you, not just surrounding you across the landscape, but ALL around you. Secondly, it's massive, without apparent end. Are you breathing out? Are you breathing in? Then you're alive and you are in the proximity of a fine thunderstorm.

Those fields, that grass, those cattle, need this rain. It sustains them. But you are there, above the fields, between them and the storm. You look up, go ahead, don't be afraid, it's far away. You look up, and the clouds are stamped into valleys like the creases in a geniuses brain. You feel like a bacteria inside a Titan's head, and that's why you can't quite take it all in. If it breaks open and feeds and waters those fields, the cattle will thrive, the men tending them will thrive. The soil will be invigorated by the manure. All will be great. Except you will be in between the storm and the cattle, not a happy place to be, maybe.

Do you resent the rain, the lightning, the winds? You wish they'd go somewhere else? yeah, maybe a little, but most likely you were too excited about the coming storm and the tinkly feeling along your spine just before the flash hits. It's a risk you are willing to take. You move along, or it moves around you. Still the earth below, still the storm above.

You must by now be getting apprehensive about the whole thing, about what's keeping you up, when will the rain hit, what are you wearing? The tension is electric. But if you squint your eyes, if you look at it just right you can see that everything you see is formed of tiny, teeny, points of some color or brightness, like an old fashioned television set. But it's more like the way a clump of pampas grass sways, each seed carried along by the plume at the top of the stalk, but each seed looking toward a separate destiny. Each beam of light came from a different place to be bounced, just so, into your eye. Why, in a way the whole damn scene is a cluster of lights in the back of your eye, the impression transmitted to your frontal lobe or eastern seaboard, whatever controls vision. The whole spherical ALL is pointed directly at You, each point or beam of light represents the tip of a thousand light year spear of changing, sparkling, tinkly, light.

You're famous! Or at least the center of attention.

And in your darkening room, with the branches filling up with trembling cardinals and juncos, the tree losing it's tint and going over to the shades, the feeling has not changed. It's still the beginning of the Light, the Lengthening of Days. It may feel cold from time to time, but the days are getting longer and things will someday stir in the soil. It has to make you happy to hear the sound of the rumbling Wheel, toiling over the cold, white fields.

I watch Her, She watches me.
Eye see Her, She seizes me.
That's the Way
the Wagon rolls.

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