Enough is as good as a feast
The giant Four o’Clocks think it’s two-fifteen and are starting to fade while others think it’s 6 a.m. and are starting to grow again. Part of the grape vine on the fence has put its leaves to sleep for a long winter’s nap while the other half thinks its spring and has sprouted out beautiful green leaves. A recent blast of Santa Ana winds drove temperatures past 100 degrees, followed by an unexpected frost that hammered the purple and olive leaves of the Vitex in the front yard, but not those in the back yard. Then it rained and the nasturtium seeds have all awakened in time for a record-breaking December heat wave.
I think my garden’s confused.
I don’t blame it. It’s been a peculiar year. And the country is in no better shape than my garden. It’s not just the hard times, it’s that the hard times are so bizarrely contradictory. Wall Street gamblers are once again rolling in cash while homeless shelters are filled, food banks depleted and states are flat broke. And budget proposals coming out of state capitols always seem to start their cuts first on the least of us --the old, the sick, the very young and the poor –while recoiling in absolute horror at the suggestion that perhaps relieving a rich man of a bit of his vast wealth might make it easier for him and his camels to get through the eye of the needle and into heaven. It is a decidedly un-Christian worldview at the heart of a “Christian” nation and one I suspect would give pause to that small, poor child born two thousand years ago in a Bethlehem stable.
Meanwhile, the very people who were crying out loudest for more government help, for a better safety net, voted into office people who do not believe in government help or safety nets. Odder still, while telling pollsters they longed for a government that would compromise and cooperate, they also voted into office a cohort of uncompromising extremists who vowed to dismantle the very government they were elected to become a part of. That’s like stuffing a wolverine and a Tasmanian Devil into a jar and telling them to play nice. Disconnect. All around me, disconnect. In the garden, in the nation’s capitol, in the heartland.
Perhaps we all think it’s two-fifteen. If so, we’re going to be in for a hard, hard winter.
Mother Nature, of course, takes no notice of safety nets or hard times. Her clockwork is what it is and once set into motion her actions are unstoppable and will have consequences. Governments fiddle as the earth burns, appointed experts spewing carbon to fly to glittering conferences on global warming to hear encouraging words which become substitutions for taking any substantial action. There’s a disconnect there, too. And a sense of helpless drift. We don’t do anything because doing something would cost somebody money or be too little, too late, or too much bother, or step on somebody’s toes. And so we wait and do nothing and hope some clever inventor in a garage in Silicone Valley will soon emerge with a magic cost-free, carbon-free, Eternal Energy Machine and we will all be saved.
But he never arrives, so the 500-year snowfalls hit Iowa again, the 100-year floods hit Tennessee again, and Holland starts building its massive sea-gates and sea-walls. They know what’s coming.
But on this silent night, the back yard is still and cold, the sky clear, the solstice moon white and pale, its sister star gleaming in the east. I would wish upon that star for peace on earth. But there’s no evidence of that ever happening. Or whisper a wish that humans across the globe would suddenly connect the dots the way the Dutch have. Not a chance. It’s getting so that I no longer know what to wish for any more, since a quick run thorough my usual list results in the same answers: No, nope, never happen, as if, no way, nada, zip, zero. Might as well pray that rocks can fly.
So maybe on these holiday nights, instead of wishes or prayers, perhaps it’s enough to just say, Thank You. Thank you for the confused giant Four o’Clocks, the lovely pale winter moon, for the guardian nutcrackers and holly glowing in the colorful gleam of the Christmas lights. Thank you for friends and family who will be gathering for a feast, for the feast itself, and for my dogs’ cold noses as they poke my hand in greeting on a new morning, grateful for one more day rising, filled with possibilities.