Feb 12, 2016

The Deciding Day of February

All my life, I’ve been waiting to burst through the door during the darkest winter night to the smell of someone baking cookies FOR ME. As the fall gathers the darkness into folds and Christmas approaches, part of me feels so hopeful and happy. I picture myself smelling the sweet air, dropping wet mittens behind me, peeling off boots and coats, and scarves, and hats, with no one instructing me on where to leave these snow-crusted garments. Just a joyful presence, who has never had a face, holding up a cookie pan saying, “These are for you!”

It’s a lovely dream, and as those days retreat into the backdated calendar, here comes slim and tidy February. Not too long, not too short, saying:

“Night,
GO TO THE CORNER,
Twilight can stay
A few moments longer.”

The deciding day of February comes when I leave my office with the light in the western sky reaching up over its head into the endless darkness, telling me spring is coming. I know in an alternate Universe, whoever got stuck being me, is probably polishing off the last cookie.

 

 

Space Farms

The Snake Pit

Every summer, my grandparents took all of us to most of the kiddie attractions in North Jersey. We made the rounds from the Gingerbread Castle in Hamburg, to the Land of Make Believe in Hope, to Space Farms Zoo in Beemerville. (Let’s not forget Wild West City in Netcong, and Bertrand’s Island in Lake Hopatcong–they were on our route, too.) Those trips were a welcome respite from the ennui of hot, humid summer days–when there was no Internet, or 70 zillion movies to watch on demand.

I was thinking recently of a short tale my grandmother told me when I was about 16. I was nursing a broken heart over some teen-aged Lothario and she related a story she said came from her mother.

A girl is walking through the forest on a cold winter day. Suddenly, she hears a hiss and a voice calls to her pleading, “Won’t you pick me up and put me in your pocket? It’s so cold, I could die.” The girl looked down at a beautiful diamondback rattlesnake, and shaking her head, replied, “No, I can’t do that. You’ll bite me and I will die.” The snake begged and pleaded and wore on the girl’s conscience until she finally agreed. As she picked up the snake, it struck, hard and fast. “Why did you do that? You promised you wouldn’t,” she cried as she sank to the ground. As the snake slithered away, it said, “You knew I was a snake when you picked me up.”

I’ve thought of that story over the years, and the other night when I found the photo above, and I started to laugh. It pictures, me, my grandmother, and my two sisters at Space Farms. Where are we standing? In front of the Snake Pit, of course.

Luckily, the days of being charmed by snakes have safely passed for me–and I’ve given up wandering alone in the forest on a cold winter days.

Aviary Photo_130984278584426753

Time to Look Up! Or, at Least Out the Window.

Winter can be the loneliest time. Make sure you check on each other,
and on those who live alone.

I recently read that at the end, these three things are all that matter:

How much you loved;
How gently you lived;
And how gracefully you let go
of what no longer belonged to you.

Towards that result, I planted tulips for the coming spring. If they bloom, I will post photos here. Before the deer snack on them.

Photo (c) 2016 Virginia Galfo

Long Valley Landscape

It Snowed… and then turned to rain…

When I’m warm, I don’t mind the snow. It falls silently and hushes the world around me. When I have to be out in it driving, or on my way somewhere with the cold wind blowing through my scarf and sleeves, I’m not so dazzled. I have been so cold in NYC that I’ve actually cried as the wind cut across the Hudson River and sliced me to ribbons.

Today was a warm inside day. I worked from home, looked at the snow flakes swirling through the trees outside my window, and watched the roads become indistinguishable from the lawns surrounding them. A few hours later, the winter snow scene began to ice over, and now the winds are shaking the trees, bending them, pushing them, stripping off the old branches under the darkness of a moon-obscured night. Like it had done through so many winters, past.

Time is passing so quickly, unlike when I was younger. Then, winter seemed to last forever. I recall meditating on a bitterly cold February day and mentally turning the world outside my closed eyes into a field of tulips and daffodils. It was so real that when I raised the shade to the outside world, I was shocked to see the snow laden trees and walks.

I know that in another moment, I’ll open my eyes and it will be a blazing autumn outside my window, with scarlet and gold leaves dancing in the dust devils and I’ll think, wasn’t it just last night–the wind was howling and the trees were swaying above my house? And I’ll dare not blink again for a long time.

Photo: (c) 2016 Virginia Wagner Galfo

m Tarrant 2

For Margaret Tarrant

Thank you, Margaret.

          So many times I hid my raggedness

Within your pen.

You provided me with safety

          And understanding–I just knew

You would never ridicule my bear,

         Who was so carefully hidden beneath my coat.

 

Dr. King and Family

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Rest in Peace

I was only 10 years old when Martin Luther King, Jr., was cut down in the prime of his life, and in the prime of him making a huge difference in American civil rights. I remember that April day as I was getting ready for school, and my heart dropped. I had only recently become aware of him, because, let’s face it: what white kid living in a lily-white suburb of New Jersey had a stake in civil rights?

Dr. King

There was something about Dr. King that I intrinsically loved. And it was probably that I perceived him to be a good dad. My own home was a battlefield, with no place to hide but the space I’d carved out next to the furnace in the basement where I was able to plug in a record player and learn to play the guitar.

As the years of adolescence passed, I learned more and more about Dr. King. And the more I learned, the more I admired him, and his strength and courage.

Today, as we honor his work, and his enduring legacy, I remember him as not just a man who made a huge difference in the civil rights of generations to come, but I remember him as a good dad. My condolences to his children and grandchildren. Rest in peace, Dr. King.

20150415_110617

New Theme, New Insecurities

20150415_110617

Okay, I’ve taken the drastic step of changing my WordPress theme. For about 40 minutes, I struggled with those things you struggle with when the cyborg in your computer takes control, but suddenly without me doing anything but a “carriage return” (bahahahaha) the font has changed and all seems to be tenuously well.

The image is a painting on display at the  Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It expresses my feelings for this change entirely. I’m looking down the well at what was, and recoiling at what is, as far as formatting, fonts, and so on.

I’m sorry if this post ends up in the back of your closet as the damp sock you lost track of. I’m going to blame my husband, Greg, even though he has nothing to do with any of this.