Friday, December 21, 2012
So, 'twas grey and chilly all day yesterday, the eve of the day said to be the world's Last Day. And given all the sorrow of this past week, flowers and teddy bears piled outside an elementary school in New England; pictures of small fizzy children with all of their lives ahead of them; pictures of dedicated educators. I was thinking that, after all, we humans might as well call it a day. If we couldn't look after one another any better than that. But then again, I guess it's always been so: Goodness and glory reside side by side with pissyness, rage and nightmare in the human heart. In this cockeyed caravan. Wasn't it, after all, a horrifying anomaly? Didn't those educators spend their vary last seconds on their own very Last Days, with acts of heroism? But still... I'm haunted by those pictures. How is it that this blessed nation is so violent?
So, with the setting of the sun and the glowering dark, we had rain. hail. thunder. Scared my dog, Mimi. "Hold me,' she said w/ her trembles and her buggy eyes, front paws on my leg, begging for a cuddle, to save her from the monsters. So, the two of us, me and my 4-legged hot water bottle, cozied under the blankets and quilts. I can't speak for Mimi, but I listened to the sleet rattling against the windows of this old house. I thought about those bereft parents back east and the monsters. About people who defiantly insist that high-powered weapons and an endless bounty of ammo must be available to the citizenry, lest our God-given freedoms, proclaimed for posterity by our nation's Founders, be denied.
And in the morning, the world was still here, all white and glittering.
So, let me here give thanks for this day, now that it, too, is just about over, this here First Day of Winter. For an old-timey pot of beans on the stove. Soaked, boiled, simmered with chicken broth, an onion, a chopped up yellow bell pepper, nice & mild, lots of garlic, salt, pepper, sage & thyme, a chopped up tiny tin of Spam, a bit o' red pepper for heat.
Around me, outside in the cold dark neighborhood, kids are sleeping in their beds. Some of the neighbors have festooned their houses with light and glamour. There are Christmas trees in the windows. Not in mine, though. Such things aren't as interesting to me as all my scheming, painting, and typing, hunkering over my computer up here in my studio. How will I celebrate the holiday? I'll reread the chapter in LH on the P where Mr. Edwards meets Santa Claus. I'll watch The Bishop's Wife again and love David Niven and Cary Grant. Gift-wise, I'll bake gingerbread for the neighbors. And I spent the last 3 days researching & compiling all of the genealogical hoohah I've collected, put it all into 7 or 8 generations of my mom & dad's lines, into a family chart. then I went out today, stepping ginger around the ice, & got copies made for the sibs & such. Talked w/ my mom's 90 year old cousin, a former schoolteacher who remembered when Uncle Jimmy Wolfe was born. (March 27, 1923, up in northern Colorado, where once the buffalo grazed and thundered.) Stirring it was to read about my sharpshooting 18th Century ancestor, Captain John Harness, forced to do battle with fierce native warriors, forced to do battle with all of the settlers moving into their lands, known to the foreigners as 'Virginia.' About Rebecca Amelia Brown, b. 1842, a Pennsylvania Quaker/Underground Railroader. About little Emma Wolfe, sent west on an orphan train after her mama died and her at-his-wits-end dad couldn't take care of his kids, one of 'em being my redheaded grandpa, who sailed off to the Western Front to take part in the Great War, that vicious, useless, muddy, deadly, deafening, ridiculous war, so grainy and quaint-looking in the photographs, then came home to marry his dark haired sweetheart, Eulah Brown of Cameron, MO. 'Girly' he called her in his letters.
About Alden Harness, b. 1862, when another war was tearing up the Missouri countryside. Oh well, anyway, he stayed around in MO long enough to sire my other grandpa, then took off to western parts unknown.
And anyway, darkly satisfying it was, typing, cutting, and pasting family trees, decorated with choirs of ancestors. Mailing 'em off, lest the memories be lost, to the present generation, going through this present season of bright and dark. Christmas trees, huh?