Saturday, December 26, 2009

Two Quiet Days

Christmas and Boxing Day seem cut from the same cloth, tuned to the same music; not the Lone Ranger and Tonto, but their horses, Silver and Scout, roaming free in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains under a waxing moon. Both days are quiet postludes in a way. Today is post-Christmas; Christmas was post-itself, in that the day felt like a calm following the turbulence that led up to it. The presents were opened, and were worth the anticipation. The tree presided over the ceremony with dignity, a perfectly behaved tree in a living room, decorated with colored lights and small animals, like a large upstanding bear with winking lights in its fur. And many games of Bananagrams were played at the dining room table while outside a custom of birds whirred in and out of the bird feeder: chickadees, tufted titmice, house finches, goldfinches, cardinals, blue jays, and most surprising of all, a slim and handsome, sand-bellied, ladder-backed, red-cowled, Red-Bellied Woodpecker. And there were walks on the beach at Sears Point in the afternoon and evening like stepping into a Dutch winterscape, except with lighthouses on the far shore instead of windmills. And a distant raft of winter ducks on the placid gray inlet, mostly scoters or scaups with a handful of buffleheads for variety.

Today was a day for coming home, doing crosswords, and walking down to Spy Pond, under the same overcast sky as yesterday, along with a few quirky by-joves to choose from. A crisp, laundered, twenty dollar bill in the clothes dryer. A snowman, created by 4-year old Ella and her dad down the street: three chubs high with a flowerpot hat, a snub carrot nose, and a brown weed-sprig for a pipe, with miscellaneous pebbles for the rest. And a genuine revelation. Down at the Pond, while Carol shot videos of the ice cover (slabs near the shore the shape of New York's boroughs), I tried the wrong end of the binoculars. Excellent! A beautiful dinner-plate frame of shore, pond, and sky! The Dutch masters would have approved, or would have sucked on their long meerschaums and shrugged, but that would be good enough. "We call it 'the wrong end,'" I would have added, thinking to win them over with irony. But by then they would have waved me away and set up their plein-air easels, pleased, after all, by the gunmetal sky and the bare trees. Though a few ravens wouldn't have hurt.

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