“Newly Planted Orchard” Oil on canvas by Paul Buxman
“Winter is the rainy season in the San Joaquin Valley. Massive clouds heavy with moisture picked up over the Pacific Ocean bump into the massive wall of the Sierra Nevada and dump their load of snow and rain. Then, when the clouds clear and the sun comes out, it is beautiful. The rain washed sky is blue, the land a vibrant emerald carpet. And behind it all stand the Sierras, massive on the eastern horizon.”[i]
December is the darkest part of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is the season of waiting. For children it is waiting for Christmas, full of excited anticipation. But for me now, as an adult, it has become a time of entering into darkness—waiting for the return of light, but not rushing that return. Now, at this time in my life, I don’t want jingle bells and sparkly lights. I don’t want Ho! Ho! Ho! and Holiday Cheer. I want dim rooms, the warm glow of a small lamp. I want to hear the sound of rain hitting the windows. I want quiet and solitude. I want to go deep into myself. I want to write and be free to stay with my thoughts and words.
Thanksgiving came early this year. I like that. I had a full week before December arrived. The first Sunday of Advent is December 3. Advent is not jammed up with Black Friday and Internet Monday as sometimes happens. I do not feel rushed. And this year my book, The Gift of Laughter, is no longer hanging over my head. It is done, in print, sent out into the world. Relief, freedom.
Writing a book is a form of self-imposed tyranny, yet I am preparing to start a second one. When 2018 arrives I shall begin posting preliminary drafts of my next book on the first weekend of each month, much as I did with my first book. I have not yet decided on a title for that book. I think of it simply as Book Two or My Story.
The Gift of Laughter was about the heritage I received from my father’s family. This next book is about the rest of my heritage—my mother and the culture into which I was born, a late-life reflection on how I became the person who sits at her desk at writes about heritage and life itself. If you would like to share in that reflection, there is a Comments section is at the bottom of this page. I do moderate comments. I want to create a safe place on this site and will block anything malicious. If you would like to receive notice of each new blog post, there is a Subscribe widget at the bottom of this page.
Heritage: A New Format
You may have noticed that this website has a new title, new graphics, a Genealogy page on the tool bar, and a separate Home page. Those changes were part of the preparation for a second book. The old title, The Gift of Laughter, was chosen because I wanted to use this site to post preliminary drafts of the book that would carry that title. Now that book is done. This site needed a title and format that fit more than one book. I am still tweaking it, but the basic framework is now in place.
[i] The Gift of Laughter: The Story of a California Mennonite Family. The passage quoted comes at the beginning of Chapter 19.