At the start of this new year, my patio and the swath of grass beyond it were blanketed with snow. It was very beautiful out there, the whole world shimmering, white and inaccessible. It’s been snowing for the last week and the forecast each day has been for more, and more, and more.
I got me thinking about what the word “blanketed” means. To cover completely, or to stifle, or to camouflage or bury. Sometimes to mute. A lot of that seems to be happening in the world today.
I plan to stay indoors until, at last, the rains come and the snow begins to disappear. It’s pleasant and warm here in my living room. I have plenty of provisions, books, music, and a good fireplace. A kind of blanketing. A kind of comforting. I enjoy this comfort, while knowing it is one of privilege and that others are not so fortunate.
I don’t remember who it was that said, “The enemy of good is not evil, but comfort.” I believe it’s true. There’s a lot I could do if I sacrificed some of my comforts. And, looking ahead, I feel sure that, in order to deal with climate change, we must all be prepared to become a lot more uncomfortable. It’s time to throw off the blankets!
Underneath the blanket of snow outside I see patches where the green is emerging. It reminds me of the green men we saw on misericords and church walls in old cathedrals in Cambridge and Lincoln and Chartres in which ivy and other foliage trail through the orifices of human skulls. The green man offers an image of our own mortality and symbolizes the eternal cycle of life as well as of our connection with nature.
It makes me think of the green branches on the trees in the park next to me and of the tall, old growth trees at Wildwood.
I think of Lorca’s poem, Romance Sonámbulo:
Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
I think of the end of Philip Larkin’s poem The Trees:
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
It’s a new year, and I feel hopeful. Here is what I’m telling myself:
We are on the brink of the unknown. Which is to say . . .
We are on the edge of possibility.