A Theme Emerges

0001The interior of my home feels like it is covered in a light film of00013 percussively distributed sputum. Is it phlegm-uary already? Most of our Christmas decorations are piled on the dining room table, save for the Christmas tree, left up at my daughter’s tearful insistence; amazingly, there has been no corresponding tearful insistence from my wife that I take it down, Because The Holidays Are Over.

0007But they are. A bored New Year’s Eve spent looking at a pneumatic Jenny McCarthy, she vociferously opposed to putting illness-preventing injections into children, yet with no compunction against injectng actual bacteria into her own head. Early to bed. A first in our married life: we didn’t make it to midnight, no fireworks save for the incredible expenditure of ordnance in forest, field, and cul-de-sac all around. The beach-head established by 1130 hours, the rest just to soften up the enemy til 0330 or so.0010

The New Year dawned, bright and clear and sunny and cold, and fresh from a good night’s rest, we took a walk around a small local lake. A place we’d never been. I wondered aloud, to a mildly interested audience of two, at the many Madrona trees that ringed the lake between path and shore. It’s unusual here–there are none at Beaver nor Pine Lakes, and none at my wetland margins. I don’t know about Lake Sammamish. Pacific Madrone is usually a coastal tree; finicky, hard to cultivate. Strange at this elevation, this lacunar setting.

0012A week in, and the New Year is no longer so new. It matches my desktop calendar at work: a coffee ring, notes, and already appointments and schedules I don’t want to keep. The visible echo of an unfortunate sneeze. This year, my calendar: already a little dog-eared, but still New. You’re supposed to make a Resolution, right? I’ve always hated that. You either start something or stop something: I’m going to exercise, I’m going to start huffing paint. This is the year I stop drowning cats. It’s no good. Once you start it, or stop it, there is a lot of year left. It’s unsustainable. Doesn’t work, can’t last. You realize in February: I hate the smell of paint.

Wait! It looks like the confinement fence might be missing from the rear of the home! More foreshadowing?

Wait! It looks like the confinement fence might be missing from the rear of the home! More foreshadowing?

Hmm...are those the bright coral stems of Cornus 'Midwinter Fire' poking through the frost-blanketed moss? Foreshadowing...

Hmm…are those the bright coral stems of Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ poking through the frost-blanketed moss? Foreshadowing…

Years ago, I set a tone for the year, an idea. Something I could be, or live. One year, it was The Return to Barbarism. Another, I Don’t Give a Sh*T. 1997, the elegantly simple year of What? These were very fine years, wire to wire. I haven’t done that in a while. You work, you have a family. It’s difficult to be barbaric. I found, as 2012 waned, that things looked different to me, there were shifts in life’s fabric…or how I was looking at it. Or how I WANTED to look at it. Through December, I could feel it, like a low-frequency vibration or a scent so imperceptible it only stirs sense memory and not the nose. Something so simple, so perfect. Sunlight on morning dew. 2012 is over. 2013…The Year I Changed My Mind.

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12 Responses to A Theme Emerges

  1. Very intriguing… I shall need to hear more! Soon perhaps?

  2. federaltwist says:

    I think I like your garden best in winter. Change your min? I await the next installment.

    • calvincaley says:

      That you like it is meaningful to me…your own garden is so well designed and evocative of place and season. Thank you very much. I also think mine looks it best when most stark, but that is part of the problem, in a sense. At least a small part, anyway.

  3. Deirdre says:

    According to old traditions, the holiday decorations don’t HAVE to be down until the day before Candlemas (Ground hog’s Day). I’ve taken down anything representing Santa Claus, but the evergreens and candles, etc. can stay a while. At the very latest, I have things down by Lent.
    There’s no point in New Year resolutions when one has ADHD, except the perennial one of trying to be more organized, which I fail at every year.

    • calvincaley says:

      We really seem to love our tree, which hasn’t lost a needle yet, I don’t think. At our house, Christmas is over right around the time my wife starts saying, “CHRISTMAS IS OVER!” to houses with holiday lights on as we drive around. She isn’t feeling well, though, and I WOULD have taken everything down last weekend except that taking outdoor Christmas down seemed to take twice as long as putting it up. I think I was tired from coaching second-grade girl’s basketball. I do despise resolutions, though my examples are obviously (I hope) in jest. However, an annual theme has always worked out very well for me. Admittedly, 1994’s Year of Wretched Excess was tiring, though. That’s why I am so pleased with the Year I Changed My Mind. If it isn’t working out right, I can just change my mind. BRILLIANT! Did you finish the stocking?

      • Deirdre says:

        I did finish, but I ended giving it to my daughter in law. My husband seemed less than enthused by the idea.
        In our dark climate, I would like to see people’s lights up until Groundhog’s Day.

      • calvincaley says:

        Hmm…so where did Santa put his lump of coal? This year I had 16 strands of lights all through the woods and scrub next to our home. It took about 600 feet of extension cords to run my network of power to the bare vine maples and snags out there. It was fun in the evenings to see cars slow down and look at the arches and spirals of light as they receded from streetside into the deep forest. Next year, I will start earlier and try for double that number. I’m with you on the lights, though I’m not looking forward to my electric bill.

  4. croftgarden says:

    Calvin I think you’ve got the Janus bug – shall I or maybe or perhaps not. Trouble is to chamge your mind you have to make it.
    That’s more than enough philosophical debate for a wet Saturday afternoon, so shall i have a piece of Christmas cake or perhaps not?

    • calvincaley says:

      There is a push-me pull-you working overtime, true, and I promise to elaborate in the fullness of time. But in place of a resolution, I Changed My Mind makes for an interesting and failure-proof annual theme, yes? I can decide to forego the cake, then later have it and not let myself down. I do think, however, that in the internal debate of cake vs. no cake, the answer is entirely dependent on whether there is pie available (the American-style kind).

  5. Pingback: Change of Mind, Change of Heart (part two) | A Thistle in My Sensitive Area

  6. Pingback: Change of Mind, Change of Heart (part three, a change of plan) | A Thistle in My Sensitive Area

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