Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Day for All Seasons

The weather has been cold, crisp and sunny, with the occasional warmer, overcast day. Taking advantage of dry days on the Wet Coast, Sadie and I have been wandering the beach, exploring the town, meandering back lanes. Charley, who can no longer walk more than half a block, has been enjoying the back yard and puttering beside me as I put up the first of the outdoor Christmas lights or pull up the last of the summer’s greenery on the patio.

The four seasons are usually quite distinct here on Vancouver Island – the early blooming bulbs and flowering fruit trees of the spring, the hot breezes and colourful gardens of summer, the gold and red autumn palette of fall, and the bare but beautiful, though often wet and occasionally snowy, days of winter.

But seldom do I see all four seasons on the same day.  Such a day was Sunday.

Sadie and I headed out in the crisp clear air, careful not to slip on Winter’s frosty floor. All around town, residents were putting up their Christmas decorations. Fruit trees in the neighbourhood are now bare of their leaves, though a few fruit remain hanging from the naked boughs. As I clicked with the camera, my warped sense of humor already formed the caption that I knew would have made my sister laugh:

My family tree:  Just a few bad apples left!

Ah, Winter. Ah, dying leaves and graying skies. Ah, grief for life snuffed out too young. I miss my sister.

But with the winter, on this sunny Sunday, come little surprises. As Sadie and I head down the stairs to the beach, I notice pussywillows already fluffy and soft – two months early, but oh so welcome.

Pussywillow on a December Day

And in the yard, Charley and I discover ......a young green pea shoot struggling to be born in a raised bed of compost!
Hello, little pea!  What are you doing here at this time of year?

Spring! You will arrive one day, and these are your harbingers. But first we must get through winter. Thank you for showing me your promise of future joy.

Then, as I struggle to move the large pot with Oliver’s tree, my patio Christmas tree, to where I will be able to enjoy watching birds nibble at popcorn chains and see its twinkling lights reflect in the glass patio doors, I suddenly notice my geraniums. Not only are the leaves still green and untouched by winter’s frost, but there, low to the ground and protected from wind and cold, is a fresh young flower. Hello, Summer – still hanging around? Aren’t you going to rest for a while? Thank you for bringing some colour and warmth to my life at this moment in time.

December's flowering geranium

And later that afternoon, Sadie and I head to the park,  the setting sun illuminates a tree – a tree that still displays all its Autumn glory, not yet ready to give way to Winter.

An autumn tree in her golden dress, not ready to leave the party

Four seasons, one town, one December Day. All life interdependent and eternal. The seasons are cyclical yet sometimes overlap, merge, connect past, present and future all in one place and at one point in time. And I think about my sister, our lives together from childhood through retirement, and I think of how she did not reach the Winter of her life, yet I see her in each glimpse of spring and summer and fall on this cold December day.

They never really leave us. They are always nearby. And on a Winter's day when we least expect to sense their presence, they are there.

The hole in my life, where my sister once lived,
Can never be mended with glue.
No duct tape, no putty, no mortar and paste
Can ever repair it like new.
No book full of photos, no cards from her friends,
No stories of times we once shared
Can re-fill that hole, where my sister once lived,
Where her smiles oft told me that she cared.

And the hole in my heart, like the hole in my life,
Is there for the longer duration.
She will always be missed, she will always be loved,
Remembered at each celebration,
Each birthday and Christmas, each trip to the seas,
Each sunrise and sunset she’s here,
Right here in my heart, right here in my life,
All seasons, in my memories.

For Carole.  (c) JFB 2011


Black Jack's Carol said...

Your first two December posts bring a perfect blend of sad happiness to my thoughts. I guess one can only miss what has been meaningful. The extent of your longing is in direct relation to just how much pleasure something or someone brings to you. You have expressed all that is beautiful about life.

Pauley, the Mr. or the Mrs. said...

Your words are beautiful.

georgia little pea said...

Ms Ballard, thanks for making me weepy on an already dismal day. that is a beautiful poem and memory.

today, as it rains yet again for the 5th, 6th, 7th??? day in a row here, i heard on the radio that it's sunny and warm in melbourne [as it was yesterday in hobart]. oh please. the world is turning in a way i do not like.

now i understand your cryptic comment about little pea. or am i remembering something imaginary? sorry. have been going to bed past midnight every day this week thanks to a capoeira festival. t-i-r-e-d.

hugs to you, sadie and charley x

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos, sad words.

How nice that your geranium still throws a little summer color onto your patio!