Hope and Gratitude

Today is our first truly winter morning, with cold rain and sleet yesterday and heavy frost last night. Each leaf of clover is outlined with ice, leaving clumps of magic shamrocks in my yard this morning. The neighborhood trees, which just last Sunday were still brilliant with garnet, topaz, crimson and sardonyx leaf-jewels, are now mostly bare, thanks to last Tuesday’s wind and yesterday’s rain. The leaves that remain, willow oaks mostly, are faded to a uniform dun brown.

The great walls of leaf-filled plastic bags stacked for pick-up at each driveway are diminishing in both height and breadth. Those stalwart grass growers who defied September’s heat and drought with hope, core aeration and reseeding, whose sprinklers have cleansed the streets and sidewalks every morning, are this week rewarded with kelly-green sprigs of their new fescue lawns emerging from under the shag carpet of leaves. My own bio-diverse yard sprouts equally lush green stands of clover, chickweed and henbit, without benefit of seed, fertilizer or daily watering.

My friends Pam and Maddy, who hosted Thanksgiving dinner, started a tradition of a Thanksgiving Day gratitude album, where the friends and family they gathered around their table could write their appreciation for what the year had brought them. Their album went missing about three years ago,  but returned from its hiding place for our 2010 Thanksgiving dinner. And so, I could read what I wrote in 2004:

Autumn disguises itself as a season of endings, but really it is a season of beginnings. It’s the possibility of the new leaf that pushes the old leaf off the branch. It’s the colorful carpet of leaves on the forest floor that shelters the new sprout of the acorn as it dreams of oak-ness. I am grateful for new beginnings and for the old life that shelters them. I am grateful for new traditions with old friends, for shared warmth, food and laughter around the table. I am grateful for homes where I am welcomed as a friend. Blessings to all for this day of thanks.

Thanksgiving 2004 marked a year of a new beginning. I had just started harp lessons, and was still learning to pluck and close with single fingers. There were no inklings of the life I live now – no harp ensemble, no recorder ensemble, no performing, no harp to hold in my arms and play every day. No friendships with other musicians. No garden. No thoughts of retirement. No hints of what fills my life and heart today.

This is another year of new beginnings, sheltered and grown on the forest floor of the last six years. So much that was unknown and unthought of in 2004 is my source of feeling alive and joyful today. So who can say, or imagine, what new life is sprouting under the protective blanket of my todays, that will grow strong and tall and give a bountiful harvest of life and joy in my years to come.