Lighting Up the Garden

November 29, 2010

Yesterday dawned warmer, clear, dry and sunny. The perfect day to decorate the house and garden for Christmas!

Up into the attic above the garage. I was momentarily defeated by the amount of summer stuff just plunked in the middle of the floor, but quickly rallied and started organizing, to get to the Christmas decorations. They were not in a neat arrangement in front of the old computer boxes like they are supposed to be. The snowman was in one corner, the sled in another. The garland and lights were thrown everywhichway into a plastic tub near the old baseball equipment. Does someone secretly live up here and rearrange things between seasons? There is no plumbing here, so I hope not.

I slid boxes and tubs, snowmen and sleds across the floor to the trap door and Tony carried it all down the steps. I took a few minutes to move all the summer stuff to its proper place and climbed down feeling that sense of clean that only comes from tidy stacks and neat arrangements.

Tony had already positioned the snowman on the sidewalk, his jaunty carrot nose bright orange in the sunlight. (The snowman’s, not Tony’s). The wreath was already hung on the wall on the porch, ready to be plugged in and have its bow fluffed. Santa Claus was staked in the flower bed. That Tony is a fast worker – the Bears game was coming on. He laid out the string for the lights sunk into the lawn, to follow the curve of the flower bed and started working on that. I attached the garland, now 11 years old, to the porch railing and attached the big red bows, then strung it with lights too. That garland will be another black mark on my environmental credentials come January. Sprigs were coming off in my hands as I worked with it – it will be thrown away.

When Dominic (finally) woke up, he crawled out of his second-floor bedroom window (honestly, are we hillbillies? apparently so) and started clipping the lights to the gutters. I draped the nets that previously covered the evergreens (now gone) and the burning bushes (now gone) over the peonies and hydrangeas and coneflowers. Coneflower seeds sprinkled on the ground and the peony leaves smooshed like paper bags. I connected all the cords to the extension cords and outlet boxes, found the timer and plugged the master cord in the garage into it.

Red ribbons that were somehow put away haphazardly (really, I have to supervise that closely this year) needed major fluffing and then were attached to all the coach lights. It was so temperate and beautiful that we barely needed coats and certainly didn’t need gloves.

I climbed back up into the attic, Tony handed me all the empty boxes and tubs and we were finished! Down in the basement, I set the timer for the second floor lights. And at 5 o’clock, they all went on.

OOooo. Aahhhh. We walk down the driveway and take a long, peaceful look.

The lights bathe the house and garden with color – blues and yellows and purples and reds and greens. Like flowers in the summer that light up the garden during the day, these illuminators flood us with color at night. Our ancestors celebrated the winter solstice with fire, with candles – with light. The dark of winter is a misnomer; it is really the dark of autumn because when winter begins, right at Christmastime, the days start getting longer again, with ever-increasing minutes of daylight. For those ancient folk, that was truly something to celebrate.

In our garden, we are keeping those traditions, both of celebrating the solstice and of celebrating Christmas, by lighting up the night sky.

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