Viewing the Month, from a Porch

There is a whicker-whacking overhead. Some bird of the night with which I am not acquainted, so I presume, as it is dark and I only know of the creature’s presence by its noise and not its form. It makes some kind of snipping sound as it flies past, and then it is gone. Sometimes, sitting on my porch, these birds pass by, or stray cats, black-and-white. They pass by with no sense of congeniality. They are on their business, and I would not stop them. Birds are fine enough to observe. Cats are deeply uninteresting to me. Unless they are hunting. If they are hunting, I do not mind playing audience. Otherwise, it is the wind that is a companion while I sit on my porch. Not a constant companion, not a friend who sits idly with you and makes conversation. Rather, a flutterbudget of a neighbor. Comes by, delighting you with energetic conversation and soft flatteries, then runs off elsewhere full of nerves. But you cannot be envious, for you know the breeze shall return to you soon. Soon, with some thought it had forgotten to impart, or some other pleasantry it meant to pay you. Back and forth, blessing all nearby, for it is merely a humble breeze, indeed; not a harsh, scolding gust. A humble breeze of humble means, dithering in its existence, dying sometime in the night when we are all asleep. 

And some child goes walking by singing about Christmas. She sings of Christmas though it is nearly halfway past January. I suppose I hate January of all months. It is the great anticlimax of the year. Strange, I think, that it should also begin our calendar. December is too powerful, too strong in its meaning and joy. You are spoiled by her march. When she is all said and done, you wake on January First and find that winter days still lie ahead, yet there will be no more parties, no more songs, no more gifts. 

You could argue that December is the delicious dream and January is the awakening to real life. That’s how it works for the student, right down to the timing of Winter holidays. December you are free, January you are doomed back to schoolwork. 

You could see it that way, if you squint. In my own effort to survive January, I’d rather reverse the temporal roles. December is what real life should resemble, while January is the dull, meaningless dream I experience each night. I would not be like the little girl who just walked by singing of Christmas. No doubt she only has a song stuck in her head. But I think there is a slow poison in remaining in the past. Half of what Nostalgia represents is pain (álgos). It is wallowing, and wallowing leads to sulking, and sulking leads to writing one’s thoughts on the bleak blankness of January.