Toward the Winter Solstice
By Timothy Steele
Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the cord of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch’s crown;
A dowel into which I’ve screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree’s elegant design.
Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.
Some say that L.A. doesn’t suit the Yule,
But UPS vans now like magi make
Their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
Are gaily resurrected in their wake;
The desert lifts a full moon from the east
And issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
And valets at chic restaurants will soon
Be tending flocks of cars and SUVs.
And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
The fan palms scattered all across town stand
More calmly prominent, and this place seems
A vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
The tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
Of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
And ceintures of green, yellow, blue, and red.
Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It’s comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing’s lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.
I had a day of balanced karma. On the negative side, we took the van in to get the tire checked bright and early, along with at least 20 other people whose vehicles required last-minute pre-holiday work. So I was without a vehicle all day, and no one got back to us till late afternoon, at which point they told us not only that the tire couldn't be patched and would have to be replaced, but that the reason the rear left seatbelt had been locking up on whoever was sitting in that seat was that the mechanism was broken and would have to be replaced...which would cost a couple hundred dollars more than just a tire, and can't be completed till Tuesday, meaning I will have yet another day without transportation. It has been an expensive year for vehicles and we haven't even started discussing what we're going to do about the air conditioning in the other van, which will cost more to replace than the van is probably worth.
On the positive side, perkypaduan came over, bringing me Trader Joe's Mediterranean hummus, and requested that we watch early Captain Jack, which of course meant "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances," and I put on "Father's Day" since it's on the same disc and is one of my favorite hours of television ever. I know Ten/Rose is many people's favorite 'ship but I really think Nine treated her as more of an equal, expected her to be resourceful rather than dependent, and changed, repeatedly, because of her influence. Plus my Kindle arrived, and thus far has been wonderful -- obviously I haven't actually read any books, but I loaded about 40 that I'd had for Kindle for PC, and I set it up with Facebook and Twitter and ascertained that I can check Gmail using its browser.
The University of Maryland officially announced that Ralph Friedgen will be gone immediately following the Military Bowl, which has got to be demoralizing for the Terrapins. I must confess that I was really glad Brett Favre decided to start for the Vikings in the freezing cold, even though I was kind of rooting for the Bears on Monday Night Football because I may need them to be strong against the Eagles in the playoffs. (My new football nightmare is that one day there'll be a Vick-Tebow matchup -- if Denver and Philly play in the Super Bowl under their current quarterbacks, I doubt I'll be able to make myself watch.) Speaking of cold, here are the National Zoo's giant pandas enjoying bamboo in the snow last weekend: