Kindling in December

Frost twists upward this morning on the sticks of our lilac bushes. Come early June, we’ll live outdoors, surrounded by the fragrance of multiple blossoms. Not so, these New England winter days.

In a brief pass of sunlight, we hurry outside, take a walk through the woods, observe the ice curling over a running brook. Later, in my Sunday housecleaning, shaking rugs over the deck railings, I hear the girls in the cemetery laughing. From the barn, they’ve taken the sled in search of a snowy hillside.

Mid-December — the hard and holy time.

Upstairs, my daughter plays the clarinet, the melody languorously easing into the afternoon’s already fading sunlight.

Mid-December, holy perhaps precisely for its hardness. Draw the darkness fast around us; see what we hold, what we cherish.

I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

— Gary Soto, Oranges

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