Here’s a game changer for my winter walks. A new coat, with much warmer sleeves than my old one. The temperature was 32, with a real feel of 27, but I was snuggly warm for two and a half miles. I also had on thermal underwear, so there’s that, too.
The Winter Queen brushed her fingertips along the landscape as she went by.
My friend Liza posted on her Patreon page* about what Germans call “between the years,” that weird spell of time after Christmas but before the new year. Go read it. It’s entertaining and she dug up some interesting cultural information. Also, it reminded me that I wrote a poem on the very topic a couple of years back, not knowing there were entire national traditions surrounding this annual week of being at loose ends.
That Lull Before the Renaissance
That lull between Christmas and New Years Day Is when pajamas serve as uniform The chocolates are polished off The one jigsaw puzzle of the year is assembled Noble intentions gestate
We sleep in mornings Before the date arrives after which Every day We’ll stir ourselves early To accomplish worthy deeds
We watch a few movies Before the date arrives after which Every day We’ll spend free time Working out and reading classics
We make grocery lists Full of carrots and broccoli While crunching chips
We indulge and relax while we can Before next week When the work of the Renaissance begins
*Her Patreon also includes content behind a paywall that is well worth the low subscription price of pay what you can, if you’re looking for an independent author to support.
I don’t listen to a huge amount of country music, but there are a few songs that speak to me. Oh, Merle, December is hard, isn’t it? Current mood.
December is the month of paradoxes for me and many others. I do love all of the holiday celebrations, but I struggle with the lack of light. This year, in particular, we all have an extra share of struggles, and the month is feeling to me like something to be endured while waiting for anything better. I have written a few poems about Seasonal Affective Disorder and I’ll share one here. Maybe I shouldn’t be so bold as to share my own efforts following the inestimable Merle Haggard, but what the hell? As long as I’m embracing the despair anyway?
Day pulls the covers in December, appeals to me to join it in hiding. Like the sun I will not bother getting up much early. What for? A few hours working at half power seems enough; call it a day.
There’s nothing in this month I want to see clearly. Why point up the lack of color, dormant plants waiting for better times? Nothing blooms, no birds sing greetings to morning. Smarter than me, they have flown to lands where December exists as a quaint custom, where they have December like Sweden has a king. A crown there may be or ornaments displayed to prove the monarch or the month, where forgetting is possible. I need no reminders.
The season proves itself. I will try ignoring it, hoping it’s gone next time I look. I will open my eyes only half-way. I will pull the dark covers over me. Like the sun I will experience the smallest amount of December I can manage.
I know I’ll get through it, and maybe even have a few moments of fun and joy. I always have before. And yes, I’m taking my vitamin D and getting exercise. But sometimes, a big component of getting through a rough time is acknowledging it’s a rough time.
One of my writing buddies has a new book out. The World is Full of A**holes is a picture book for adults, and one that’s just what I needed at this point in time. It was written by K.L. Harris and illustrated by Nik Henderson, with the art and words complementing each other wonderfully.
Picture books for adults is a trend I’ve noticed over the last few years. I like it. I mean, I’ve been known to lose myself in 800-page tomes without illustrations and find it a satisfying experience. But sometimes, especially for deeply felt issues, going back to the format of a simply-delivered message is an effective salve. A poetic reminder that the world is full of assholes but that there are ways to deal with them and to keep from being them is the equivalent of a nudge to remember to drink enough water and to make sure I’m getting a little exercise on the regular. Basic messages and steps that make a huge difference in life.
The playful wording makes the book fun to read. When Harris lists the places and ways we might encounter assholes in our daily lives — “Assholes can be doctors, teachers, or people scooping ice cream” — the illustrations rely mostly on grim color combinations. But things lighten up considerably when the author pivots to the topic of guardians, “People who’ll speak up when you’re not treated right.” The world is full of those, too.
My son-in-residence consented to walk around the neighborhood with his old mom today. We live in an interesting part of the city and always find something new to catch our attention. The neighbors did not disappoint today.
I should note the skeletons and tree stump art are not in the same yard.
I did a thing, as part of the River Front Reading Series in Kansas City. Sorry about the glare on my glasses and the fact that I kept moving my head around trying to minimize it. But if you can overlook that and want to hear me read some poems, here’s a link to the video. I’m the first reader. I recommend sticking around for the second readers as well. I enjoyed her work a lot. Also, check out other River Front videos on YouTube.
The trees I saw on yesterday’s walk inspire me to share a poem I wrote.
Instead of dreary gray strands threading subtly widening paths about my head, I desire blazing red for my autumn color interspersed with patches of can’t-peel-your-eyes away yellow and clusters of an orange so perfectly sun-toasted it holds its own as an independent hue not remotely a blend of the other two. I wish for the colors to burst out all at once so that people I meet will feel their breath catch at the splendor, the glorious culmination of my maturity.
Today’s walk happened in the last 40 minutes of sunlight. My neighborhood is not too far from downtown, but also not too far from a couple of trailheads that go into a wooded corridor.
Barred owls were calling to each other. Whoo-hoo-hoo-HOO. Whoo-hoo-hoo-HOO. Where are you? I’m here. Like my husband and I yelling, “What?” to each other from different rooms.
And the neighborhood gang that has been raiding yards and gardens was caught in the act (see above.) I’ve watched these young ‘uns grow up during the course of this year, having seen them first when the two tawny ones were awkward spotted fawns stopping traffic in front of my house.
I don’t know why it surprises me when animals adapt and make their homes in cities. I’ve done the same thing, after all. I can’t begrudge them too much for the tomatoes they’ve eaten. They left us plenty, and we humans keep taking more and more land for buildings. They’ve got to feed the family somehow.
I put on blinders to everything that needs to be done at home and went out for a bike ride with Frieda this morning before the temperature reminded me too harshly that it’s still summer. Like most everyone right now, I find it a constant effort to manage my stress levels. I would love to go camping and spend a few days unwinding, but that’s not possible at the moment. So I take what micro-breaks I can get — sitting on the deck for a few minutes in the evening with a mocktail (I don’t drink much alcohol) and some music, or finding a less-traveled spur of the MKT Trail where I can be “away from it all” for a couple of minutes, right in the city.
The illusion of being out of the city:
On the main trail, an interesting rock with an interesting puddle in an indentation.
In an effort to learn more about the rock, I took an accidental selfie. In case you can’t read the print, the rock is several million year old limestone. I wonder how many other creatures have stopped to look at it throughout the millennia.
One of the great blessings in my life is that somehow I have become acquainted with a number of accomplished writers, artists, craftspeople, and musicians. I try to save most of my book, art and music budget for those independently producing their own work, or who are just starting out — folks who have worked hard to produce something great, but haven’t already amassed a huge amount of money doing so. It’s important at all times to support independent artists, but even more so currently.
I wondered what I could do to help promote this. And then it came to me. Aha! I’m a blogger. I can at least let my few readers know about some artistic delights of which they might be as yet unaware. I’m going to try to do this semi-regularly.
First up is Triflemore, touring musicians who describe their sound as zenfolk. I met them first as good and caring neighbors, discovering later they’re excellent musicians as well.
I’m not expert enough in musical parlance to write in-depth reviews. What I can say is that the feel of their music often makes me envision rolling green hills and groups of people sitting around fires, visiting after a long day of productive work. Definite Celtic vibes, with contemplative lyrics that somehow pull off the paradox of feeling grounded while simultaneously taking flight.