I favor old garden writers. One of my favorites has been Helen Van Pelt Wilson which the post Growing Old in the Garden centered on. I thought I would place a bit of Gladys Taber on the page for a midwinter savor.
As Christmas and the New Year come and go again, I feel as if I should like to break down the walls, and to urge everyone else to break them down, and actually speak from the heart to one another. I wish I could gather all the people who are dear to me in front of the fire, not in a mass, but one at a time, and give them my own holiday message.
Like this: “I want you to know on this New Year’s Eve how much I admire and love you. I love you for your clear swift thinking, your indomitable will, your vitality in a rather tired world, your keen, creative spirit. It is impossible to be intimate with you because of the impersonality which is part of you; nevertheless, I respect your integrity.”
And this: “I know you are thinking of me as just another finger wave, as you go about your long day of hairdressing. But I am not just another customer, because I appreciate your personality. I have gleaned a good deal of information about you, while I sat under the drier, or had the ends turned up. You have worked hard; you have had a difficult life; your family situation is almost unbearable; you haven’t much money, and the future is not going to bring you any great gifts.
But you have a homely philosophy that carries you along without any complaining. You are both sensible and cheerful.
You are a great person. I know a number of wealthy and intellectual and important people who could well be humble in your presence.”
Of course, I shall never say these things. I shall say instead, “Let me give you another cup of coffee.”
And, “Have you read the new serial in the Post?” And, “Yes, I guess I will have a rinse today.”
It would be rather nice, though, to make the holidays a time of gifts, not wrapped in tissue paper, but gifts of the heart.
Now in our New England valley we begin the year with the big snow. We have an appointment with winter, and we are ready. The woodshed is stacked with seasoned applewood and maple, the snow shovel leans at the back door, the shelves are jammed with supplies. when the first innocent flakes drift down, we put out more suet and fill the bird feeders. (The grocer says he can’t keep enough suet for everyone simply snatches it.)
When the snow begins to come in all directions at once and the wind takes on a peculiar lonely cry, we pile more wood on the fire, and hang the old iron soup kettle over it, browning the pot roast in diced salt pork and onions. As the blizzard increases, the old house seems to steady herself like a ship against a gale wind. She has weathered too many winter storms to bother about a new one! Snow piles up against the windowpanes, sifts under the ancient sills, makes heaps of powdered pearl on the ancient oak floors. But the house is snug in the twilight of the snow and we sit by the fire and toast our toes feeling there is much to be said for winter after all.”