I call that attitude a marvel, now. In fact, I’ve decided to adopt it myself. So in the spirit of Amelia, I thought I’d chalk up just a handful of this year’s gifts.
Hummingbirds. Dozens of Anna’s hummingbirds landed in my willow tree this week. They’ve been hanging around the garden, sipping nectar from the hummingbird sage, thinking their hummingbird thoughts. It’s either early or late for migration, and they’re not saying why they’ve come. But they like to sit in the tree and preen and stare at me through the window. The glint in those little black eyes is even better than a visit from the magi.
My students aren’t hummingbirds, but they do bring me news from the foreign land of youth. I’m especially enamored of my Literature and the Environment students this week, who just finished exams and turned in such extraordinary final projects I can hardly speak. Which is what happens when you turn learners loose on topics they care about and ask them to teach someone else what they know. They taught sauerkraut classes; hosted local food teaching dinners; created blogs about sustainable fashion, recycled art, music and nature, and community gardens. They made sculptures, did public art installations, convened classes in their dorms, taught faculty about green roofs…. And they related it all to the works we had read. Whew! They’re a wonder.
The Biosphere. The sparkle of our technologies and the comfort of our lives make it easy to forget where we live. Yet everything we buy, eat, wear, use and breathe comes from the earth. We live inside its systems. It’s our habitat. Its health is ultimately ours. May we honor the gift by doing all we can to restore it—and us—to wholeness. If you want to join me, here’s a good place to begin, figuring out your environmental footprint.
Slowness. Slowness gives us time for neighbors and contemplation, asks us to ponder the wisdom of our choices before we leap. It gives us reading and ideas and life close to home, a retreat from frenzy and waste. At our tables, slowness means finding our food and food traditions close to home. On this blog, it’s meant slow books and slow reading and digging in the garden. Everywhere, it means knowing the place we live in the deepest sense, from its ecology to its human stories. At Christmas, slowness means entering the darkness of winter with a quiet heart, seeking wisdom, celebrating the light. So I’ll put a shiny bow on that one for sure. Especially since this year, a full moon will shine on the winter solstice.
You. It’s been a great year on the blog, thanks to you. Some of you arrived by way of the Slow Reading bit in the Guardian, some of you happened by out of chance, some of you were sent by friends, some of you came by because you’re my sisters or daughters or friends, some via Twitter or that Zuckerberg thing. Some of you, for reasons unknown, arrived by way of a mad, global interest in spider monkeys. Brave new world.
So, as the year draws to a close, I remain perched on the ambivalent edge of the tech revolution, knowing that embracing it means jumping into a sea of noise, and that without it, I would never have found all of you. And that has been a gift.
Good Christmas, glad solstice wherever you are. And peace.