Friday, January 8, 2010


We had a big snow here. "Big" meaning several inches of white powder falling over the last 24 hours, starting yesterday morning. As I was leaving the courthouse late yesterday afternoon, after first looking out the window at my snow blanketed car, a colleague walking by commented that he bet I was going to go home and write, predicting I would take photos and then post something about the snow.

I'm not going to photograph or write about the snow. Lots of writers write about snow better than I do. My last several notes on Facebook have all been about snow, starting with "Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast…" (Robert Frost). John Keats captured frigid cold better than anyone: "St. Agnes' Eve - Ah, bitter chill it was!"

Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem'd taking flight for heaven…

Sylvia Plath, writing about what turned out to be her final winter in London, described the downside of the season:

It was an unspeakable winter, the worst, they said, in one hundred and fifty years. The snow began just after Christmas and would not let up. The trains froze on the tracks…Water pipes froze solid…The gas failed…The lights failed and candles, of course, were unobtainable. Nerves failed…Finally, the heart itself failed. It seemed the cold would never end. Nag, nag, nag.

And Dylan Thomas was lyrical in "A Child's Christmas in Wales:"

Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely-ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunderstorm of white, torn Christmas cards.

That's enough snow talk for now.

Gifts, not snow, are on my mind. We have just left the holidays and gift giving behind. Warren and I agreed that we didn't want to go overboard for the holidays and I am pleased to say we didn't. I got the two Christmas presents I most desired: new oven mitts and two 8" cake pans (found nowhere but the dollar store). My old mitts were worn out and needed to be pitched. My cake pans were 9" and many cake recipes call for the smaller pan size. If I use the larger pan, the cakes taste fine but look rather puny. (Apparently we supersized our boxed cake mixes somewhere along the way; I only noticed this volume discrepancy when I stopped using box mixes.)

But I'm not writing about the cake pans or the oven mitts, thrilled as I was to receive them. I'm writing about gifts that leave me so rich that I rival Croesus.

These are but a handful of them:
  • My friends in Blogville, who I hear from and who hear from me throughout the week. You are a big part of my community. Ellen, Sharon, Christine, Jennifer (both of you), Sarah, Working Poor, everyone else! Thank you for being an unexpected and totally welcome gift this year. You have supported me, encouraged me, and laughed with me. I hope I have done the same for you. How I look forward to seeing what is going on in your part of the world and letting you in on mine!
  • My friends here with whom I share coffee and books and laughter and hugs and stories and community. I'm not even going to try to name names. You know who you are (those of you who read this blog). I couldn't do it - whatever "it" encompasses - without you. (And that includes those of you who don't live here, but are part of my life - by letter, by email, by phone - all the same.)
  • The wonderful note accompanying the hi-bounce ball with the floating confetti from Becky, who volunteers for the Symphony and who reads this blog. What a thoughtful note! The ball sits on my desk now and I shake it from time to time the same way one would shake a snow globe.
  • Sam, for saying on Christmas Day as we cooked side by side, "why don't we try that together?" when we talked about wanting to make cheese.
  • Bethany, for reappearing and reaching out after many long years. There is a long story here, and it may get told later, but the short version is six days before Christmas, she commented on my blog. We are meeting up in New York at the end of this month and just writing that sentence brings tears to my eyes.
  • My haircut last Monday. Well, not the haircut per se but how it came to be. Margo was just arriving at the shop for hers when I called to make an appointment. Later that day, when Janine finished and I got out my wallet to pay, she said "it's all taken care of." Thinking "well, of course, it's all taken care of, you just finished," I said "I know." Janine gave me a funny look and asked me how I found out. I returned the strange look and asked "find out what? What do I owe you?" At which point Janine repeated, speaking slowly because of my clearly impaired intelligence, "your. haircut. is. all. taken. care. of." I started to ask "by who?" then exclaimed "Margo did it, didn't she?!" And indeed she did! Margo, you are a gift in my life for lots of reasons, including reminding me that great gifts, like great books, often show up where and when you least expect them!
  • Any day, hour, minute spent with Warren anywhere, anytime. (Happy 2010, dear!)
This weekend Warren and I are taking down the lights, packing away the ornaments, and boxing up Christmas for another year. Our tree is so desiccated that all of its needles will be on the carpet before it ever reaches the front door, let alone the curb. Some of the presents are still under it - the cake pans among them - and will migrate to their new homes. I'm already using the mitts.

The gifts above? The friendship, the community, the love?

They are already lodged in my heart.


Sharon said...

I am honored that you consider me a "gift"...what a wonderful tribute...LOVED this post for many reasons, but especially because it reminds me of all the wonderful things I have to be grateful for too!

I am the working poor. said...

Wow, thank you! As a recovering pessimist, I'm realizing how reaching out and communicating with others online is affecting my attitude. Thank you for the positive posts.

Captain's Wife - Jennifer said...

Great post! :) And where did she get that bouncy ball? That thing is awesome!