Friday, January 1

Three minute back yard snow tour — New Year's day, 2016

Our backyard fencing situation is a classic city amalgamation: one side is our neighbor's big wooden fence that was there when he moved in. Our previous neighbor's yellow lab Nelson would climb the full six feet of it a few times a week to tour the neighborhood, with the pure glee that comes from being a lab on top of already being a dog. The back portion is the city's — keeping us out of the park and vice versa — and the other side is a big chain-link deal that we bought and put in cooperatively with our other neighbor years ago when we first moved in. I still remember the newly discovered muscles in my arms from the awkward hoisting of the post-hole digger. Have you ever used one of those? Dang. I'm not sure if I recommend it. 

Shortly after that we bought a flowering vine to grow on it, and the dude at the nursery told us it would completely swallow the fence over the next twenty years. It has. That's what getting older is like I guess — you start to see things happen over decades that play out just as you expected but at the same time they are the biggest surprise ever, in awestruck wordless ways that you kind of enjoy keeping that way (wordless).

Today I have a new appreciation for how many birds are Wintering in that vine. I went out to stomp around in the new snow and after much nervous fluttering in the branches a whole bunch of them, annoyed with me for having the gall to exist, took off. At least one cardinal and several small brown blurs.

That's fine, they don't have to like me. Starting a new year is bittersweet isn't it? Maybe giving ourselves time to stop and contemplate always is, and having the day off plus a fresh coating of snow helps things along. Add to that some ungrateful birds and there you have it, the perfect recipe. But it's okay. I'm a fan of bittersweet. The dictionary refers to it as pleasure alloyed with pain and I think that's both good and right. I hope that the alloy of pleasure and pain in 2016 leaves you more strong and connected and real and ultimately joyous. 

Happy new year.  — helen

p.s. bonus found-poem from Merriam Webster:

Rhymes with bittersweet
aquavit, at one's feet, balance sheet, biathlete, booster seat, bucket seat, catbird seat, cellulite, cookie sheet, corps d'elite, countryseat, county seat, crystal pleat, decathlete, drag one's feet, driver's seat, easy street, exegete, incomplete, indiscreet, latent heat, letter sheet, lorikeet, make ends meet, marguerite, Masorete, meadowsweet, meet and greet, miss a beat, Nayarit, obsolete, off one's feet, on one's feet, on the street, overeat, overheat, Paraclete, parakeet, pentathlete, prickly heat, rumble seat, saddle seat, scandal sheet, self-conceit, semisweet, shredded wheat, sliding seat, spirochete, superheat, to one's feet, triathlete, trick or treat, two-way street, undertreat, up one's street, winding-sheet, window seat