Take heart, friends, take heart — Groundhog Day approaches!
And whether or not the furry rodent sees his shadow, spring is just six weeks away and while King Winter hasn’t reigned very long by the calendar, it only seems as though the season has been here forever.
Those folks who decorate extensively for Christmas had to do so in finger-numbing weather, and trying to find a warmer dry day to take them down has been a chilly problem, too.
Mine have just now been retired and I’m almost ashamed to admit as I write I still inhale the Christmas tree’s sweet breath.
Maybe by the coming weekend, I’ll get it taken down and the living room will be less cluttered.
Why is it such fun to put out all this “stuff” and such a pain to stash it away for another year?
A friend who stopped by last week looked in, saw the Christmas Farm and the tree and all the rest, shook his head and said, “Boy, you sure do have a lot of stuff!” Have to do something about that.
Before I forget — as you decorate your tree next Christmas and find some of the antique balls without string or wire, use twisties which allow a much more secure attachment than bent paper clips!
I have a hard time not saving them, and now I know why.
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Close friends know at my age I don’t need more “stuff” and accordingly give me books and food and bird seed and dog and cat and horse treats and other nature-related goodies.
As usual, their generosity overwhelms me. I’ll not have to go to the library until summer, my freezer bulges and I can be extravagant with the birds.
Winnie and Lisa and Apache and Toby have also thoroughly enjoyed the holidays!
Book-wise, cat lovers will appreciate Dewey — The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Brett Witter.
Alex & Me by Irene Pepperberg will appeal to almost everyone.
Alex was an African Grey parrot whose intelligence and emotional bonding with Irene astonished the scientific world. He died at 31 and his last words to Irene were, “You be good. I love you.”
A special treasure is The Illustrated West With the Night by Beryl Markham, which I had read when it was first published in the early 1940s.
It is, “the perfect gift for anyone interested in the courage of women, the wonder of Africa, the thrill of flying, the habits of wild animals, or the boundless horizon of the human spirit.”
Horse people will appreciate I Make Horse Calls by Marcia A. Thibeault, DVM.
Rudyard Kipling wrote, “There is sorrow enough in the natural way/ From men and women to fill our day;/ And when we are certain of sorrow in store,/ Why do we always arrange for more?/ Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware/ Of giving your hearts to a dog to tear.”
It is from this poem that Alston Chase chose the title of his 2008 book We Give our Hearts to Dogs to Tear — Intimations of their Immortality.
It is the story of a family and their animal companions for 30 years, with loving emphasis on their Jack Russels and the dogs’ “embodiment of spirit over mortality.”
And, “It is an eloquent tribute to the dogs we love, a reflection on mortality, the limitations of life and the final triumph of the spirit.”
I have found it deeply moving. All dog lovers will.
Chase writes, “The animals we love frame our lives.” How true.
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Readers know my affection for all things natural and my despair at the destruction of those things all around us.
This quote in the November-December Orion magazine said it well, I think: “Beyond the source of our sustenance and a wellspring of inspiration, the natural world today serves a new function: it is a baseline of honesty at a time when we desperately need honesty.”
Listen to the news. Read the papers. Amen.