Tuesday, January 29, 2013

We had a good snow last week, a good heavy fall that stayed around due to the cold weather. It was more like ones I remember as a boy. But they came earlier then. In November we would have snows that would provide sledding for many days and snows like that would continue to fall periodically through all the winter months. I loved those snows back then.

I remember one snow of long ago that piled up and came to stay. The wild creatures of the field took shelter wherever they could. Pheasants came at night to roost beneath the low branches of the hemlocks that lined our drive. As I walked down the lane to the school bus stop in the morning and passed close to their place of cover, they would run across the ice-crusted snow and take flight. I would stand and watch as twenty two or twenty three birds repeated that maneuver, one after the other. It was rare to see them in such numbers and so close to our house.

The pheasants are gone from this area now and it seems the snows are gone as well. The only things I have are the memories of them. But to tell the truth, the older I get it seems the less I miss them. I don’t stand up against the cold as well as I used to and it’s a lot harder for me to get around in the winter months. I have a friend who claims to love winter and snow. She laments the fact that the snows do not fall more frequently and in greater quantity. I asked her about that just the other day. “Why do you love winter so?” I asked. In answer she told me how nice it was to curl up by a window with a warm blanket, a bowl of hot soup, a loaf of crusty bread and with classical music on a stereo to watch the snow fall while writing poetry.

I like that sort of thing, too, but I don’t really call that liking winter.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I’ve discovered that nighttime is the best time for the internet, best meaning when it is fastest and least plagued with bugs. I discovered that by accident, caused by the times (frequent) when I wake up with ideas that I feel I have to get up and work with. That usually occurs around three or four o’clock in the morning. Most days my little internet setup is very speedy at that time—downloads rapid, attachments easily loaded, emails off quickly.

Why is that?

I’m not sure, but I have a suspicion as to the reason. It’s very simple—there are fewer people using the internet at that hour of the day and therefore things flow more smoothly. It’s rather like driving on the parkway at that same time of day rather than at the height of rush hour. That’s a very unscientific theory and I’m sure there are other factors that have a part in the matter, atmospheric conditions being an obvious component, but I think it’s pretty solid as a theory.

Actually, I am rather amazed as to how well the internet works at any hour. Imagine the thousands—perhaps millions of transmissions that are being processed at any given time—words, photos, music, jokes—some of them even worth while. And, of course, advertising. Where would we be without that?

Anyway, I find my internet works better at three or four o’clock in the morning rather than during regular business hours. There’s only one drawback and that is my ability to be awake, up and working with any consistency at that hour. Oh. Well. I suppose there are a few minor drawbacks to anything.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Last night was Twelfth Night and I took down my Christmas tree. It was rather sad to do that. I enjoyed Christmas very much this year. There wasn’t any special reason for that. I didn’t do anything special this year, didn’t go any special place, didn’t go out for dinner—but Christmas was still special. It felt different.

That special feeling caused me to put the tree up early this year—on the last day of November. I turned the tree lights on every evening in December and enjoyed them being on. How can I explain this new attitude? I suppose it began with the change in my anti-war sentiments and that began long before the Christmas season. For years I have been against violence as a means of solving problems, but I never did much demonstrating against war. That didn’t seem quite right either. Recently, I’ve begun to have more understanding about that. The understanding stems from Mother Theresa’s statement about anti-war demonstrations. She is quoted as saying: I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.

In other words, in an anti war demonstration, both sides of the issue, pro-war and anti-war, are putting emphasis on the same thing—war. In that way, energy is placed on war. Much the same thing happens in the ongoing debate about gun control. Being pro-gun control or anti-gun control and being active on either side focuses energy on guns. The same can be said for other issues—drugs, for instance.

This year, my attitude regarding Christmas changed. Instead of concentrating on the things I didn’t like about the way we celebrate Christmas, I paid attention to the things I did like and enjoyed myself. I put decorations on the tree and added some new things to them. I brought in some good things to eat and experimented in creating a few others. I enjoyed the weather. I enjoyed the days. i enjoyed people. I enjoyed the peace, something we all claim to look for in the season of Christmas and so seldom achieve.

Looking back on the season from the advantage of retrospect, I think I’ve found a formula for an enjoyable Christmas. Maybe it’s a little more than that; maybe it’s a formula for a more enjoyable life.