Faith in the future

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dec. 24, 2009

Christmas letter 2009

Dear family and friends,

Greetings from Lorimier Street, where the red berry tree in the front yard now leans like a drunken New Year's Eve reveler. Last winter's ice storm changed the tree and reminded many people in the region that a warm house is no birthright. We kept our power but have learned from our friend Carolyn, who didn't and now has a new fireplace. Eden wasn't heated either.

The natural world has had our attention this year. DC had to have rabies shots after a stray cat she was stroking bit her and ran away. She didn't mind the shots as much as sitting in the hospital waiting room alongside potential H1N1 carriers in masks. Eventually she saw the positive in the experience: that she now is free to pick up most any living thing.

My first garden was not successful, issuing only a few peppers, gourds and radishes. The potatoes, carrots and other vegetables planted never grew. At the Scottish community called Findhorn they tune into the plants through meditation, and the plants grow profusely. I mulched, composted and watered but suspect I have more to learn about nurturing them.

DC has demanded we don't disturb the egg sack left by the orb weaver who made our front door her home last summer. The sack is attached to the window above our front door. Orb weavers are spiders that create beautiful webs, artistic and technological marvels that trap their food. As winter comes the female lays her eggs in a silken sac that hangs in her web like a miniature Christmas ornament. Then she dies. The natural world is founded on faith in the future.

That's why people teach, I know now. DC has been teaching for 10 years, me far less. The job is difficult and rewarding, each class like a performance that must be prepared and rehearsed. I have seen fine teachers at work. Their teaching expresses the gratitude they feel for those who taught them, who held the faith.

I ran the St. Louis Half Marathon last April, just to see if my body could. Running for more than two hours seemed impossible back when five minutes of running was winding. But five minutes can become 10, and 10 can become 20. The biggest obstacle is our own resistance.

DC kept me up nights firing her raku pottery in the backyard. I am there to help her lift the pots out of the fiery kiln and to make sure the fire department's help isn't needed as well.

She is in the kitchen making meringue chocolate chip cookies as I write. Hank and Lucy are hanging out with her, waiting for the batter they know is promised. They are old dogs now who leave puddles in the house just as they did as puppies. We treasure their presence in our lives.

DC's parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a cruise to Jamaica and Grand Cayman, a blue-green reminder that the Garden is still all around us.

Our parents are well and in their 80s. Three of them still play music in public and the fourth leads tours at the city's Victorian museum. DC and I are grateful to have all of them, all of you and all that is in our lives this Christmas.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is a former reporter for the Southeast Missourian.

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