Another big snowstorm hit the house, just as the families began their treks home yesterday. We were all watching the weather forecast closely the night before and decisions were made to leave at daybreak. The Californians got to the local airport in plenty of time, and the last report was a photo of them having a quick dinner at SFO before their train ride home. The Billings family journey was an epic drive across our state in which they hit every kind of severe winter driving conditions from freezing rain, black ice, through blizzard winds and snow. I read the “emergency travel only” reports and looked at the state transportation webcams throughout the day, in horror. Shortly after nightfall, Joy texted they were five blocks from home. And, I talked with Sarah, snug in her house after their trip to Nick’s family in Phoenix. Awwww…chicks all safe in their nests for the night.
Now, I am sequestered in my own nest, putting the house back in order. It’s a perfect time to be snowed in. It’s going to take some time, but that’s okay because it’s going to take some time to put me back in order. I feel like I’ve jumped off the train of my own life’s rhythms and routines and have this “where am I” sort of feeling. I guess everybody probably feels like this as the undecorating of Christmas begins. I glanced into the dormitory room yesterday, as I was collecting sheets and towels, and saw that the string of Christmas lights which the kids had taped to the wall, were falling down on one end. The process of putting Christmas away is forever melancholy, tied as it is to the ending of another year. I don’t have the emotional energy to look at all the end of the year “bests”–the photographs, the books, the music, the movies, the significant news stories. I’ll just focus on my own little spot in the Universe, which feels like plenty.
In my own little spot, I was tidying up piles yesterday and putting away gifts, and already sorting and cataloging this Christmas into my memory bank. The grandkids were so incredibly excited to see their siblings and cousins open the gifts they had carefully selected for one another. And, they could hardly wait for me to open theirs to me. Included in my big stash was a completed puzzle of book covers of all the classic children’s books I’ve read to the grandchildren over the years. The Honea kids, during time at their cabin, had put it together on a board and glued it in place, ready for framing. There was a cloud journal in which I can record the date and time of cloud formations, because, as Cormac said to me, “You know how you are always looking up at the clouds.” And, there was a book, written and illustrated by six-year-old Eamon, entitled, The Story of the Snowman and other Memories, in which he writes about the year in which he and I made his first snowman, and a story of me pulling him on a raft one summer day on the lake, and one about me teaching him the names of flowers on a walk home from his school in Berkeley.
It’s snowed another foot since I took this photo, and as I sit here this morning at eight degrees outside, it’s snowing again. I don’t know when we’ll get plowed out, but we still have power and leftovers in the fridge, and, as I tidy my nest, the light of Christmas was left behind, shining on this little speck of the Universe.
Barter–by Sara Teasdale
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder in a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstacy
Give all you have been, or could be.