The prickly still-green pods of the liquidambar tree are thudding down onto the corrugated roof of the stoep. A luscious silver and gravid full moon swells between the black shapes of mountain each night. Without warning, the season has turned towards autumn. Grasses bleach along the verges of the roads, the oaks are darkening, the air is clotted with red dust. The hottest months are still to come and yet autumn is hovering, the wheel edging over.
The former art teacher wants a peppermint tart for her birthday supper (oh the bitterness of those born just after Christmas) and I would rather do something fresh and delishioso with peaches and raspberry puree, but, no, she is 82 (she says 79) and she wants her commercially degraded lookalike peppermint tart and that means I shall have to do something involving Orly Whip. Give me strength.
The small white dog known as Khlobie-wa-Kenobie is undergoing canine hormonal surges and dances outside on the grass like a fluffy white belly-dancer, twirling and jiggling under the avocado tree. The other dogs find her embarrassing.
Today I sit and think about endangered children every where because it is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the babies slaughtered by Herod. Hurt or endangered children should be the reason we stop wars and check domestic violence in its tracks.
The year just past is much on my mind, as is the year to come. Rebecca Solnit on climate change:
The Earth we evolved to inhabit is turning into something more turbulent and unreliable at a pace too fast for most living things to adapt to. This means we are losing crucial aspects of our most irreplaceable, sublime gift, and some of us are suffering the loss now — from sea snails whose shells are dissolving in acidified oceans to Hurricane Sandy survivors facing black mold and bad bureaucracy to horses starving nationwide because a devastating drought has pushed the cost of hay so high, to Bolivian farmers failing because the glaciers that watered their valleys have largely melted.
Sober community, and Anne Lamott who both drives me crazy and enlightens me, on the promise of Advent that is really a promise for all year round, including what my friend J calls the’ lost week of the year’:
“So three men from the recovery house next door help him to his feet,walk him to the halfway house and put him in the shower. They wash his clothes and shoes and give him their things to wear while he waits. They give him coffee and dinner, and they give him respect. I talked to these other men later, and even though they had very little sobriety, they did not cast this other guy off for not being well enough to be there. Somehow this broken guy was treated like one of them, because they could see that he was one of them. No one was pretending he wasn’t covered with shit, but there was a real sense of kinship. And that is what we mean when we talk about grace.
“Back at the meeting at the Episcopal Cathedral, I was just totally amazed by what I had seen. And I had a little shred of hope. I couldn’t have put it into words, but until that meeting, I had thought that I would recover with men and women like myself; which is to say, overeducated, fun to be with and housebroken. And that this would happen quickly and efficiently. But I was wrong. So I’ll tell you what the promise of Advent is: It is that God has set up a tent among us and will help us work together on our stuff. And this will only happen over time.”
A year turning over. Time to pause and reflect, stand silent for a moment in gratitude, amazement, pain. The poet W S Merwin: