Earth Journal:

January Transitions

by Audrey Y. Scharmen

The holidays are past, their glow diminished, and we must quickly adjust or succumb to the dark side of winter.

Nothing is left in the bottom of the bowl but shells and Brazil nuts; the chocolate box is bereft of soft centers. Tinsel wanders listlessly about the house looking for a tree. It winks from corners and slithers along the baseboards or clings like a kitten to my shoulder.

Outside the window, the accessories of winter are all white and gray: ragged clouds, satin swans and gulls with the shiny plastic sheen of penguins. Only holly - the beautiful burning bush of the Chesapeake woodland - adds color to a monochromatic scene.

The New Year should come with spring, I muse; winter is no time to begin anew. The holiday has wrung me of all color, too. In fact, I am so tired and numb I find I have been walking around for days unaware of a pine needle embedded in my big toe.

Then one day I awaken to dawn on the pink-iced creek, a sky the pearly opalescence of an abalone shell. I watch a flock of buffleheads - funny little clowns of winter water - dive for breakfast, and I note that the ubiquitous gulls are providing a new act each day: everything from graceful ballet to raucous duck brawls.

Masked golden waxwings come midday to plunder the poke pushes of frozen fruit. They fill the air with the shrill sound of Cracker Jack whistles and dribble purple prose all over my new car.

The sunset, which stands unchallenged by any other season, floods the cove with a tidal wave of brilliance, brushing the tips of trees with autumnal rose. At nightfall, the shore is aglow with giant candles as dock lights appear suspended on pillars of gold and silver in the quiet water. The interlopers we consider such a summer nuisance are welcome in the black of winter.

Tomorrow or the next day may bring a wet sticky snow to turn shiny green leaves of magnolia into snowflowers, white and lily-like - lovely as June.

So it is as the writer Dorothy Wordsworth said, "a pleasure to the real lovers of nature to give winter all the glory they can, for summer will make its own way and speak its own praises."


Audrey Scharmen watches the seasons from Lusby.


Editor's note: In the winter months, Earth Journal will alternate with Captain C.D. Dollar's Chesapeake Outdoors.

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VolumeVI Number 1
January 8-14, 1997
New Bay Times

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