Sunday, December 26, 2010


or Evoking Joy

I was thinking today about brevity, not as the soul or wit or anything, but as something potentially useful, and found my thoughts turning to the
haiku, with its few syllables and its shorthand ways of saying much with little.  Haiku encapsulate a place or mood or season in a word and evoke an ever-widening world:  "mist" opens the curtains on autumn; "clouds" suggest summer and all that summer brings.

Evergreens are surrounded by a rich symbolism in many cultures, mostly redolent of steadfastness, permanence, life, protectiveness, even joy.  My first winter in Albuquerque, I was struck by the number of broad-leafed evergreens that flourish here—pyracantha, photinia, euonymus, boxwood, nandina.  Winters are far greener than I thought they would be (but then, summers are browner, so it all evens out).  My favorite of the evergreens is Winter Gem boxwood, which has adapted readily to the narrow strip of ground outside the kitchen door.  It roasts in full sun all summer, freezes in full shade all winter, receives no care other than an occasional dousing in pasta cooking water and even more occasional rainfall, gets pillaged regularly for vase cuttings, and remains sturdily green and shiny come what may.  It is one of my role model plants—unassuming but reliable, and ready to stand forth cheerfully when the days darken around it.  It's one of the unsung heroes of the garden, a giver of quiet, steady joy, a maker of few demands.  I can see why evergreens have become symbols of so many good things.

My family has just left after a truly joyful Christmas celebration, a model of love and of giving on many levels.

a Christmas feast
candles gleam on laughter,

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