Monday, December 24, 2007

FIELD NOTES: It is the night after the Full Cold Moon...

Christmas Eve 2007, through the window

...and as we travel under its ‘special effects’, we remark over and over how unreal this moon looks, unreal because it looks like something in the movies and we all know in the digital age we can no longer rely on what our eyes can see. My subconscious eye conjures an image of a great beach ball floating far on the horizon of an endless ocean with a figure on the shore; the figure in contentment faces the beach unaware that it will not be able to retrieve the ball at its convenience, not because it hasn’t the wherewithal, but simply because it isn’t paying attention. It has forgotten that the ball is in motion and miscalculated how far it must travel to meet it. One day a year, we strive, crave, hope for perfection in the special effects we call Christmas – we get only one take – but here before us in our man-made capsule, nature has trumped our feeble attempts, neither LED, incandescent or fluorescent can duplicate the illumination above us. A contrail shoots out to the right of the giant, glowing moon and I squeal with excitement that it must be Santa! It MUST be! I have chosen to forget that the children accompanying me are 17, 19 and 22…and so have they. I say the word ‘moon’ like I’m saying it for the first time…”Look at the Mooooon!”….like I have just unwrapped a surprise gift. Tonight, the moonlight is a surprise and a gift to all the earth and even though it is so very far away, I do believe in what I think I see.

Friday, December 14, 2007

FIELD NOTES: There is something in a love-hate relationship...

Sometime in December, 2007

...that keeps one coming back for more, and so it is with the New England winter that imposes when autumn is still on the calendar. We are already in our second storm. I am a ‘summer’ by all calculations – sun-lightened and sun-warmed, at my best in shorts and sandals and aqua-marine and white. Still, I gather what I need, and then, devilishly wish for snow, for bitter cold and howling wind, to trap me, to cut me off, to keep me in one place, to challenge my comfort, to excuse me from socializing, to prove that being stubborn has it virtues and its beauties like spring’s first crocuses and pansies, both soft and brave. By the mailbox, under the old pines that stick up like a giant set of knives, I found a frozen squirrel, not a mark on her: eyes open, mouth closed, an image of some inevitable ending, simply fallen from her perch as if her parachute had failed at the last moment. Before the snow came, I scooped her up in my garden shovel and carried her gently to the woods and put her in a hole under the leaves and acorns and pine cones that had been her world (and still is a part of mine). Aqua-marine and white have become suspended now; the earth and sky are crystallized, cryogenic, awaiting a gradual thaw that will make their hardness once again yield to the touch, make us unravel with pleasure after a long, solitary confinement. Endurance, hibernation, deprivation – it is nature’s cold, hard beauty that I love and hate so much.