Stark County Holiday Ramblings

By , December 17, 2011

If you’re reading Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons as a lunar calendar with me this year, it’s time for a Christmas poem for today’s last quarter moon, Stark County Holidays.

I love some of the lines this poem offers. “We sit like heroes trading tales” reminds me of more than a few family gatherings in my own experience. There’s a poignancy to the lines, “Now, less than we meant to be/We watch the night and feed the fire.” It would be sad, indeed, to feel that way.

‘Tis the season to dwell on depressing family gatherings, a common theme in our society, unfortunately. It’s the main source of drama and comedy in our seasonally-themed entertainments. I spoke recently of the bittersweetness of Christmas. This all too common form of that I can do without.

Of course, living semi-remotely, family gatherings are a rare occasion for us, so they haven’t devolved into an annual ordeal as it seems to have for some families. Thank goodness for that. True, the gatherings that do occur may not be perfect, but perhaps the fact that we don’t expect them to be prevents ours from becoming depressing in the first place?

I’m rambling.

We hiked out yesterday and got our first look around after recent high winds. We found that a configuration of windfalls we’ve come to know and even trust got blown apart. I want to hike up there today to have another look at it, see if I can figure out exactly what happened. There’s a good-sized tree across the trail. It appears to be a tree that had broken in half about 20-30 feet above the forest floor. The top part fell and lodged in between two trees growing close together.We’ve been watching it carefully, even though we had been pretty convinced it would never actually fall. Looks like it could after all. I’m mighty glad we weren’t around when it happened.

2 Responses to “Stark County Holiday Ramblings”

  1. joanna says:

    Hi Mark and Michelle,

    I’ve been a secret fan of your blog for more than a year–ever since my boyfriend and I took a trip to Alaska and I wanted to keep part of me living there–which I have, in your blog! I’ve wanted to chime-in a lot (I bought Mary Oliver’s book and try to follow along sometimes).

    The depression of the holidays is really a common thing…we live in New York City, and it’s important to remember that in a bustling city, it can still be bleak. Sometimes you can feel the most alone while you’re in a large crowd.

    In any case, I wish you both a warm and restful holiday. It’s a great time to mend things, both literal and figurative…and plan your garden for the spring.

    Now that I’ve gone and finally posted, I’m sure you’ll hear from me more.

    Best wishes,


  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Joanna,

    “Secret” no more–now everybody will know! We’re glad you finally came out. And, it’s good to know someone’s actually reading some of those calendar poems. As we approach the end of the project, I’ve been wondering about that . . . .

    I fervently believe that holiday depression is far more common in the big city than elsewhere. No doubt about that! I hope you enjoy living in New York. I’ve never been there (although we spent a summer in Rochester long ago) and I’m not sure I’d ever really want to. I’ve spent enough time in Chicago, Dallas, and L.A. (which is to say not much, but definitely enough) to know that big cities are not for me. It’s ironic that so many of the movies we enjoy at this season are geared toward advertising the wonder of Christmas in New York, but even those idyllic presentations have left me unmoved. Of course, we find ourselves overwhelmed in large gatherings in Haines, a town of less than 2500!

    Where ever you spend them, we wish you a happy holiday season, and look forward to your comments in the future.


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