The Daily: 2 January 2023

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Nine ladies dancing...

Have you noticed that, after what is largely food on the wing, the gifts given on the last several days of the song take a decidedly musical bent? Nine ladies dancing, ten lords a-leaping, eleven pipers piping, twelve drummers drumming. First food, then dancing. I approve. (That business with the gold rings can just be tossed out… and why does that happen on the 29th anyway…)

Food and dancing. Those are the essentials of celebration. When either is lacking, the party is just not as memorable. Or enjoyable.

I just found out that a small town near here has a municipal 12th Night celebration. Free of charge. Music, dancing, theatre, story-telling. Probably food vendors because those pop up like mushrooms wherever there is the faintest whisper of festivity. It lasts two days, so it isn’t strictly traditional, but it is kid-focused which is very traditional.

I don’t have small people in my life right now. I’m thinking of “borrowing” my neighbor’s granddaughter for the day. Is that unethical?

I just feel a need to be young and jolly. We’re only now beginning to dig out from the storm that hit before Christmas. The power is restored everywhere, though communications tech remains a bit patchy. I get regular notifications from my provider, telling me that they are working hard to restore service… which makes no sense to me. If I don’t have service, how do I get the message? If I do, is the message relevant? I don’t know. Maybe my phone isn’t as speedy as it normally is?

The sudden freeze after a day of wind and a deluge that wiped away all the insulating snow devastated my jungle. It looked jungly before. Now it looks like it may qualify for disaster relief. Even the small and flexible cedars around my backyard have dropped dozens of branches. Not just the feathery brown twigs at the end, but two-inch thick trunks. I’ve been hauling them across the street to the dumping ground behind the garage, but more keep falling. It’s not even cold or particularly windy now, though it is wet. The trees are just too weakened to withstand anything.

I know that feeling. Deep exhaustion. The weather is getting to all of us. We haven’t had more than a few hours of sunlight since mid-December. I note the weather every day. It makes for a compelling argument against the utility of solar panels in this part of the world. Solar panels will produce a trickle of electricity under deep cloud cover, but not enough to power a heater. And solar heating panels don’t work at all unless there is unfiltered sunlight. I keep looking at this fireplace that can’t hold a fire and feeling so tired at the mere thought of all the work that needs to be done just to stay warm here.

But the worst of the weather news probably hasn’t been told yet. They’re still totting up the damages. The Vermont sugar bush, that which produces most of the maple syrup in this country, was blasted by the winds. Trees are down everywhere. But even where they are still standing, the trees are just broken. And it’s the oldest and most productive trees, those that don’t bend, who are most damaged. My own trees look cartoonish, like a child’s illustration of “tree”, a stick and a lollipop circle on top. They’ve lost most of the branches up to the very thinnest crown. Will they be putting so much energy into excess sap production this year? I don’t know. Our state secretary of agriculture doesn’t seem to think so.

But government types are often pessimistic. They have to be. Keep our hopes thin so that any hint of good fortune is seen as wildly exceeding expectations. So maybe the trees will just carry on. This isn’t the first storm to hit any of them, though it is one of the strongest. In any case, “strongest” will just keep being redefined each year, maybe each month, for the rest of our lives. Humans and trees. Ridiculous weather, damage and destruction, weakness and death, all that is part of the daily territory now. Might as well get used to it. Pessimism might be the new normal for everybody. Humans and trees.

Then when good things happen, as they will, we’ll all be absurdly pleased with even the slightest of them. Like free 12th Night celebrations in a small town in Vermont. Or nine ladies dancing

Seems good policy…

©Elizabeth Anker 2023

4 thoughts on “The Daily: 2 January 2023”

  1. Re Maple Syrup production. According to this source, the province of Québec produces nearly nine times as much maple syrup as Vermont, with Ontario in third place followed by Maine, New York and New Brunswick.

    I’m very sorry to hear about all the tree damage in Vermont recently. Seems like a very common story this winter, although my immediate area has escaped most of the damage so far.


    1. Looks like we’ll be getting our christmas trees and our syrup from Canada now… It’s just that it’s such an important part of the culture. We have mountains named for maple sugaring.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.