Monday, December 05, 2005


"The Snow doesn't give a soft white damn whom it touches." --e.e. cummings--

Snow is headed directly for us...the sky has been bleached of all color, like it always is before the snow falls. There is that scent in the air outside--I can't explain it other than to say it smells cold. It smells, honestly, like snow. I won't be persuaded to argue the logic of this an old man who can feel the storm approaching in his arthritic elbow (and in whom I'm just as willing to trust as the meteorologist), sometimes, you just know the weather.

My kindly neighbor was out front when I bundled up the older kids to the bus stop this morning, "You ready for snow?" she called across the street. "No. I'm having a hard time convincing myself that it isn't still summer!" I replied, because this is the truth. We missed July and August when our boy-o was sick. By the time he was well, school had started. I was still getting out shorts and t-shirts from the attic, but it was over.

I don't think I really, truly accepted it until last week. The neighbors down the road had put up Christmas decorations (before Thanksgiving) and this completely irritated me this year. "Some things should be isn't even technically Winter yet," I grumbled at dinner. "Ha," my daughter laughed, "Now you know how it feels when they're putting out back-to-school supplies the week after summer vacation begins!" And I had to admit, she had a point.

Why are we rushing our whole lives away? By the time Autumn breaks, Christmas lights are already marked half off...when I'm finally ready to plant my gardens, they're already hawking evergreens. My son's teacher wants to talk about second grade, while he's still in kindergarten...and my eldest (a third grader) already warns her father and I that we "really are too late to save for her college education". The baby seems to be the only one "living in the moment" around here. When she wants her juice, she wants it now...when she wants a nap, she means, in this instant. If she wants to be held, the arms better be reaching out to her, because she only can experience the very breath she's taking. Then, in the mail today, I got a letter from a Pre-school for next year for her. Hold on...I am thinking. Enough now. Let's just hold on.

Just like I cannot really promise you a snowfall tonight, I am entirely unable to assure that you and I will absolutely be here tomorrow. I can make my predictions--and, like the meteorologists and the tender elbows, I have an 80% chance of being right. Maybe my odds are even better than that, and I can suggest with a 99.9% chance--I will need to hang up holiday lights this year...our children need college funds and educational plans and preschool. But, every time I pack up the Summer clothes, I cannot help but to think of what a leap of faith it is every year to believe I'll see another season. Not just for me...but for any of us.

This isn't such popular stuff to consider, I know. But, I think the idea of impermanence can make life that much sweeter. I don't want to give the impression that I live my life "beneath the shadow of death". How morbid that incorrect. But, since I lost a young, healthy nineteen year old brother out of nowhere when I was a young, healthy thirteen year old girl...I am unable to fully drop the idea that life as we know it can fall away in an instant. This forces me to live more in the moment as well...

I'm not immune to planning and looking ahead--just like I cannot bear to let the past go easily. Still, I hear Natalie Goldberg's voice during our Taos meditations intoning solemnly, "Present moment...Only moment," as we dragged our pens across the page. Should we be ready to live out long, happy lives? Of course. That's what it's all about. I just don't want to be rushed out of where I am right this minute. Let me have the season I'm in...let me have the children the ages they are...let me go without having to forecast too much. Besides...and I add this with ABSOLUTELY not a touch of I type this last line, random snowflakes have already started falling.


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