Saturday, October 9, 2010

On Optimism

The radiator by the front door was warm this morning. The leaves are turning quickly now, accompanied by cruel winds that are doing their best to knock all the leaves down.

There's no lingering this year, winter is nipping at our heels. The Old Farmer's Almanac says it's going to be a brutal one, and most Mainers agree. People around here have an interesting relationship with weather. When someone dares complain about the rain or the cold or whatever might be bothersome at the time, the complaint is almost always met with "at least it's not X." Don't like the rain? "At least it's not snow." Don't like the snow? "At least it's not ice." Don't like the ice? "At least it's not snow and ice like we had in '76."

Don't like the snow and ice? Tough, because you probably can't get out of your house to complain to anybody.

Conversely, the nicer it is, the more nervous people become. They believe in their heart of hearts that we shall be punished for it later - and after 12 winters here, this attitude has definitely rubbed off on me. We had an extraordinary summer, so you can only imagine the doomsday preparations that are being made now for winter.

For my part, the wood is stacked, the onions are cured, the chiles roasted, the furnace cleaned, screens put away, and slowly the garden is being put to bed. Except in one bed, where a few dozen cloves of garlic are going to be planted as soon as I finish writing this. Garlic, like most bulbs, is an exercise in the ultimate optimism. You tuck them deep in the soil and then you let go, hoping that you'll still be around when it comes time to harvest your beautiful and flavorful little time capsules.

It reminds me of a beautiful E.B. White essay about watching his wife look through the bulb catalogs when her age and health issues gave her a 50/50 chance of never seeing them bloom. And yet she plowed on with hope and optimism, which seems to be at the core of what life is about. Or what it should be about. Letting go, plowing ahead, hoping for the best, and leaving a little beauty behind for the next person.


AsKatKnits said...

Exactly what more people should do in life... "leaving a little beauty behind for the next person."

Thank you for sharing.

Cat Bordhi said...

Thank you for setting my morning to such sweet music...your way with words, your deep and inherent kindness, and your genuine optimism are music and balm to my soul. And all this without even mentioning fiber!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely way to start my Saturday! Your words are beautiful!

Maurice Frank said...

Thanks for your beautiful writing. It's good to see people who are still connected to nature.

besshaile said...

Well, my pretty girl, I am planting daffodils this weekend and I will think of you as I dig and tuck and pat. And I will remember a delicious rainy October when you sat in my livingroom and ate meatloaf with us. hugs and many more hugs.

Melissa said...

Lovely. We had a brutal summer here in Virginia, and I've noticed on my fall walks that all the wooliebears are solid orange. I don't remember ever seeing that before! But a snowy winter in VA makes my heart happy - I love snow and still miss Vermont winters after 28 years away.

Lanea said...

I'm crossing my fingers, hoping for another snowy winter in Virginia. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one.