Archive for January, 2009

Fall colors in Texas

Saturday, January 24th, 2009


As it turns out, there is a winter in Texas. The leaves turn, then fall; cold fronts bring the clear crisp air from Canada that drops the temperature into the low 30’s; birds flock and huddle together; hats, gloves and scarves emerge from summer hibernation; the quiet of fall evenings and sunrises is replaced by the clicking and whirring of heat pumps desperately trying to extract the bit of heat in the cold winter air.

The backlot squirrels take off on the windy days of frontal passage, but quickly go back to work collecting, storing and defending their winter cache. We see them lie still in the sun, safe in the tangle of branches until the shadow of a circling raptor sends them scurrying to the safety of their nest. The stresses of the holidays seem to continue into the depth of winter, transformed from gifts and greetings into bills, illness, and anguish over possible layoffs.

I’m sure there will be a Spring in Texas. I can feel the hope and promise of it in the buds on the trees, the strawberry plants on sale at Lowes, and the sparkle in the eyes of customers wandering the garden section, barely containing the urge to work the earth.

Spring is the traditional season of rebirth. We awaken from the Winter’s hibernation with new energy, seeking new opportunities. I’m hoping that with the closing out of winter comes the closing out of adversarial proceedings, a putting-in-place of those who would take life from others, and opportunity for all to work…the soil, the classroom, the office, wherever. We all need work. It gives some of us purpose; gets some of us out and when done, gives a sense of accomplishment that’s hard to replace with tv.

I hope to turn the balconies at Brook Hollow into gardens of a sort this Spring. It looks to be a tricky balancing act, making sure not to overload the old deck boards with containers of soil, making sure my daily morning routine includes pouring water on seedlings, trying to balance the entertainment value of squirrels with their non-stop appetites, but I’m remembering summer sweet corn from Gunther’s Greenhouse in Morton Grove, husking bushels full of sweet corn to dunk in boiling water and tubs of butter. My work won’t result in the quantity Gunther could provide, but the mental picture of walking onto the balcony and picking fresh corn and a handful of strawberries for dinner is too irresistible to not invest some work in. In the meantime, I’ll look forward to seed catalogs arriving in the mail, start stockpiling dirt, starting seedlings and looking for containers. All work, but feels like the few days of eating will be worth the weeks of watering and tending….where did I pack my John Deere cap?

It was another very hard week for my friends and the good people of Blacksburg. Another reminder we need to tend to our stresses and psyche’s before they snap. I’m sure its brought back in many the feelings we all thought we were over.

The loss of a positive vision of the future and tragedy seem to go hand in hand in people. That’s why I think its important for us all to begin the hard work of dreaming about spring’s work and summer’s bounty. Living in the depths of winter, climatic or emotional, demands that we think of the promise of spring. Help those around you by asking them about their spring dreams and summer memories. It’s just around the corner.

Take Care, Be Good to each other.