Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15: Nature's Ornaments

As I was driving into town to run some errands, I noticed a tree that seemed to be well decorated with big, puffy brown Christmas ornaments. Wow, I thought, someone was very ambitious! As I was passing the tree, however, I realized with pleasant surprise that it was an hydrangea bush still bedecked with its lovely, lacy blossoms, now dried and preserved for the winter.

So then as I made my way through the side streets of Camden, I began to notice other trees also decorated by nature: an old oak with most of its leaves still hanging from the gnarled branches like little brown hands; a small magnolia with swollen leaf buds, perhaps spurred by the recent warmer weather; an apple glowing with an abundance of frozen, golden orbs of fruit; bright purple clusters of crabapples; a sumac's fuzzy red fruits rising above its bare, twisting branches.

They can't let go, was the thought that ran through my head. I'm always looking for metaphors, and they often end up reflecting my inner state of mind. (Funny how that works.) But that's not really it. These ornaments of nature are each worth hanging onto for their own reasons. The sumac, apple, and crabapple fruits, for example, will attract and feed wandering flocks of robins, bluebirds, and waxwings. Dependent on such winter gifts to survive, these beautiful birds will fill the trees like living ornaments--like some kind of divine visitation--eat all they can, and move on. So it's not about letting go. It's about flaunting what you've got, in your own way. It's about celebration.

Apples, dried blossoms--
wild holiday ornaments
for a wild season.

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