Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Last night, as I made my pre-bedtime rounds to check on, cover, and kiss sleeping children, I closed every window in the house for the first time since Spring. My sunflowers have withered and my remaining tomatoes will stay green on the vines. I hate winter. I try very hard not to think about my life in terms of sacrifices I have made, things I have given up. I prefer to embrace, in a whole-hearted way, the choices I have made and the hand I have been dealt. But having grown up in the tropics, winter's a tough one for me. Every winter a small cold cranky part of me thinks, 'Damn it! If it wasn't for this man I love beyond all things who is also my best friend and who I would gladly die for, I'd be living someplace warm and sunny!' Hmmm..... Love or good weather? Tough choice.
But winter here is really rotten. The sky is continuously grey. Any snow on the ground very quickly gets piled to the curb where it sits for months and quickly goes from white to grey to black from exhaust fumes. No sparkly winter wonderland for us. In the coming months I'll try not to bitch about it too much, but I want you all to know that I'm being very very stoic and brave.
Not surprisingly, every year around this time, I revisit Keats's "Ode to Autumn," my favorite of all his odes. He wrote it when he already had tuberculosis (which he caught from lovingly nursing his brother Tom, who died young of TB) and knew that he, too, was headed for early death. [Aside: God I love John Keats! He was exactly my height, 5'2", nursed his younger brother, was unrequitedly in love with Fanny, and wrote gorgeous and, to my mind, really sexy poems! Sigh.... He puts the "romantic" in "Romantic Poetry."] Anyway, here's a link to the whole poem, and I'll let him end this post with the final stanza of that brilliant poem. Remember that the shadows are lengthening around him too. He knows he will most likely die, as his brother did, young and never reaching his full ripeness.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue,
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river shallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies,
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn,
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.