Sunday, December 28, 2014

Seasonal pleasures and treasures

The occasional break in the clouds showing sunlight and blue sky makes me wonder if we're about to trade The Nativity for The "Rapture". I don't know about where you live, but around here this Winter has been awfully dreary. Now it's about to get really cold again. The siding crew has been working this weekend. I suspect they want to get as much as possible done before they face the prospect of losing working days to below zero temperatures.

Christmas cookies, a fading memory
Christmas cookies, a fading memory
Photo by J. Harrington

Most of the Christmas cookies are gone, although Santa brought enough candy to keep my blood sugar spiking until Easter. As part of my effort to hold off on major rants until the New Year, I'm going to list the books I got for Christmas instead of fussing about our Agriculture Department, the mining industry and our legislature. I promise that, starting January 2, this mellow old elf will take a break and the rants and raves will return in force. Meanwhile, I really appreciate having received for Christmas, in addition to the Valley of the St. Croix Poems, these books:
  • The Unauthorized Audubon by Laura B. DeLind and Anita Skeen
  • All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillotson
  • Fall Pictures on an Abandoned Road, Poems by Richard Fenton Soderstrom
  • 20x20 Art & Words, 2008, Jackpine Writers' Bloc
  • 20x20 Art & Words, 2011, Jackpine Writers' Bloc
  • Intriguing Owls, by Stan Tekiela
  • Trees Up Close, The beauty of bark, leaves, flowers, and seeds, Nancy Ross Hugo, photographs by Robert Llewellyn
  • Essays After Eighty, Donald Hall
  • The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness, Rebecca Solnit
Each of these works has a special meaning for me, particularly Donald Hall's, which gives me a goal to aspire to (writing essays after 80), Solnit's, because she almost always gives me hope for the present as well as the future, and the Jackpine Writers' Bloc because of my love for Minnesota writers and writing (and because they published one of my poems this year). Plus, as I may have mentioned previously, I have a theory that, as long as my stack of unread books is high enough, I get to stay alive to read them.

Of Modern Books

By Carolyn Wells 

               (A Pantoum) 

Of making many books there is no end,
   Though myriads have to deep oblivion gone;
Each day new manuscripts are being penned,
   And still the ceaseless tide of ink flows on.

Though myriads have to deep oblivion gone,
   New volumes daily issue from the press;
And still the ceaseless tide of ink flows on—
   The prospect is disheartening, I confess.

New volumes daily issue from the press;
   My pile of unread books I view aghast.
The prospect is disheartening, I confess;
   Why will these modern authors write so fast?

My pile of unread books I view aghast—
   Of course I must keep fairly up to date—
Why will these modern authors write so fast?
   They seem to get ahead of me of late.

Of course I must keep fairly up to date;
   The books of special merit I must read;
They seem to get ahead of me of late,
   Although I skim them very fast indeed.

The books of special merit I must read;
   And then the magazines come round again;
Although I skim them very fast indeed,
   I can’t get through with more than eight or ten.

And then the magazines come round again!
   How can we stem this tide of printer’s ink?
I can’t get through with more than eight or ten—
   It is appalling when I stop to think.

How can we stem this tide of printer’s ink?
   Of making many books there is no end.
It is appalling when I stop to think
   Each day new manuscripts are being penned!


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