(Excerpt, from The Gardner’s Almanac of Irreproducible Phenomena December 31, 2021)
The first thing the Gardener noticed on the morning of December 31 was the color of the snow. The sun had emerged after days of gray and bitter cold, and as shadows stole across the land they brought with them a new color, “warmth,” transforming the drifts and vaguely monstrous shapes of the shrubs into benign presence. The light most particularly touched the robins, who demand warmth to ignite their color fully. On the dogwood branches the robins sat, eastward facing, their chests swelling and feathers plumping as though they had been feasting all week instead of pecking amidst tire tracks for the carcasses of worms. In another garden a varied thrush had fallen to its frozen death with a sound like lead and been buried with ceremony, its dark necklace enveloped in garnet strings and rubies as befits a prince.
Last year the gargoyle had reigned over the pond with his broken wing. For 40 years his gnarled features gave purchase to every bird who came to sit and drink from the spout pouring water. Each December, through the incantations of ancient fractals, the water carved a heart from the ice, a wet obsidian streaked by the occasional golden contrails of fish. Each year the birds descended in order of size: first the crows, then the flickers, then the robins, sparrows, chickadees and towhees, and lastly, the shy wren. The Gardener did nothing on these days but observe and laugh, and all was good.
Long ago….. [Read more…]