My husband and I are surprised to see the crowds at the park this
morning. A group of runners has gathered
near the fire pit, stretching and blowing on their fingers. Someone stands on a picnic bench shouting out
directions while another person breaks thin sticks across his knee before
feeding them to the fire. Someone holds
a silver banner—Happy New Year!—and ponders
where to hang it.
We cross the dam and, for a change, head left and up the hill. A squirrel nags from his nest at the top of a
tree. Another sits on a branch, teeth
scraping against the acorn held in his tiny paws. Sparrows and chickadees flit among the brush
lining the paved path.
People walk without coats.
Some jog by in shorts. Couples
walk their dogs or talk on cell phones. Some smile broadly and wish us good morning. And some, perhaps weary from the festivities,
look tired and grumpy.
And at home, after ten days of being together, we’re a bit
grumpy, too. Our days have lost their
definition. The sharp edges of rules and
expectations softened and eventually fell away altogether. Our routine is lost and we crave it
again. We crave schedules and busyness
and to-do lists around which to arrange our lives.
The wind rustles the withered leaves clinging to the pin oaks. A pair of cardinals flies past. And just there—a bluebird. Geese fly overhead, one low honk responded to
by several higher, more urgent cries. Two geese lag behind, calling to the others
ahead: Wait for us. Wait for us.
The new year is a bittersweet time; a melancholy time. A time of lasts and a time of firsts. A time of hellos and a time of goodbyes. A time to look forward to our successes and
to admit our failures. A time to put our
lives back in order. The new year ushers
in the season of contemplation; of taking stock of our lives.
As the new year settles upon us, we fit our lives back into a
routine; put things back on a schedule.
We impose new restrictions—weight, health, organization, budget.
We walk down to the covered bridge and I see that the forsythia
is in bloom. And just there, a patch of daffodils
has shot up, one season too soon. And a blue heron sails overhead before coming to land gently and quietly upon the banks of the creek.
Labels: Creative non-fiction, Nature