I walked in the garden in the early morning hours with day breaking over my head like the exemplary ones described in poetry containing adjectives like golden, azure, brilliant, crisp… like the first day of creation. It was breathtaking to look across the breadth of the valley to see the far off hills in muted purples framed with a fiery orange hue. When I looked up to the plum orchard on the crest of the little hill toward which I was walking, I saw that a gentle bright green tinge (almost garish against the backdrop of darker grass and molting leaves) has been spreading unnoticed beneath our windows signaling that Nature has given her silent warning and all rooted beings stand now like sentinels alert awaiting her final cue after which having been sounded, everything will simultaneously explode in every imaginable color and hue. The sweet winterlings, crocuses and snowdrops, the first blossoms of the season, always charm my heart. It amazes me that they are so tiny, the merest breath of filigree, yet are the first to break through the surface of the still frozen earth like joyful intimations that the promised end to the bleakness of winter will be kept.
The sweet songbirds are returning in small groups, scouting out the best trees wherein to build their nests with the most excellent views and a constant source of food. Their happy twitter cannot help but make me happy within and I find myself, like Walt Disney’s Cinderella, singing along whilst occupying my hands with the drudgery of cleaning and packing. There are scores of ravens in the still barren vineyards who observe the frenetic hither and thither of these colorful and chatty upstarts with apparent scepticism and obvious annoyance.
They avoid anything that might be construed as a neighborly social obligation opting, instead, to observe in stoic silence while searching out shiny things dropped by wanderers on the paths which they harvest for their solitary perches. We have a special affinity, the ravens and I. Sometimes when I pass by, they fly to lower perches and tell me things with their heads cocked peering at me with glittering eyes. Other times they share their silence with me. But how could I not love the dear little songbirds who are so cheery and playful?
Yes… packing and shiny things. I have been having a dreadful time with this business of sorting and discarding. I thought I was relatively free of material things but, well, as books count as material, I am having to free myself from that minimalistic illusion. How did I manage to gather so many books since arriving in Germany? I have this obsession about a proper library being the quintessential symbol of stabilitas in loci. So to give up my books is to me tantamount to losing my hearth and home. I have tried to sort but have managed to retrieve almost every book that I had placed in the “to donate” box relocating them with reckless abandon to one of the now precariously stacked mounds with the designation “to ship.” The other things are easy to part with but, alas, those are less weighty than leather-bound tomes.
I have a lovely acquaintance who is Buddhist. Each years she has a “Ten-Things-Tea-dance.” It is somewhat of a misnomer as there is no dancing to be had but her roasted, toasted Japanese teas are quite extraordinary. In any case, she invites her friends and acquaintances to gather and after she has chosen just ten things that she wishes to keep, she allows everyone to take what they wish of her remaining things. When I say “ten things” I do mean exactly “ten things.” No more. No less. She likes it when many friends avail themselves to her things as they are easier to visit now and then in their new surroundings than that which is donated. That is what happens to everything left over. Japanese tea is a wonderful thing. Perhaps I shall take up reading tea leaves… they are certainly lighter, more transportable, infinitely more practical and they always contain the makings of a different tale at the bottom of each teacup. New perspectives. Indeed.