Saturday, December 24, 2011
It’s December, the month I sit down with my current calendar and transfer notes, birthdays, reminders onto the pages of the new year’s calendar. The space heater is on, the steam rises from a cup of ginger tea that sits next to a warmed-up biscuit on an antique plate from my grandmother—the one with tiny pink roses circling the edge. The sky is blue, and deceptively sunny. No warmth reaches the ground.
I’m on July, 2012 now, and in careful lettering with my special blue-ink pen, I write “Wisteria, 2nd bloom,” on the calendar page. I smile in anticipation as I mark this reminder that summer will come again, regardless of the weather at the moment. I feel excitement knowing that next July I will inhale the scent of these beautiful clusters of fragrant purple blossoms that will drip from the greenery overhead, just outside my window.
I have two azalea plants. One blooms in the spring, big, bright, beautiful red blossoms. This I’ve marked in May. The other, with smaller, perfect pink petals, blooms mid-September. Why? I haven’t a clue. I planted them the same time in celebration of a novella I had just published, Waltzing With the Azaleas. The flowers continue to bloom—the book has stopped selling. Such is life.
The days, months, years go so much faster now than once they did. Babies are born, friends and family die, the cycle of life spins along as it did before I arrived, and as it will after I’m gone. I’ve buried both parents, an event I spent the better part of a lifetime dreading. From the vantage point of being old(er) myself now, it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. There’s an order to life, and death is part of it.
The leaves have mostly all dropped like deflated parachutes from the trees that border my cottage. With sadness, I remember a story about someone waiting to die until the last leaf falls from the tree. I can’t remember how it ends, but the poignancy stays with me—I keep thinking that someone glued the last leaf, but the person died anyway. Some things are unavoidable, despite our best attempts at controlling circumstances.
And, as the leaves drop, turn brown, and become mulch, the new pale green buds on my lilac bush dare to raise their heads in careless optimism. As the last of my basil blackens in the early morning frost, the primary colors of the primrose defiantly beam their radiance up at me from their terra cotta pots, undaunted by the winter wind and rain, or the expectations of the season.