frozen.jpg It's December and the leaves lie cold on the ground ringed by dark shadows of moisture left unevaporated by the sun hanging silver and low in the sky. Frost stiffens the individual blades of grass so that they glint as I walk by.

These are the first beautiful words to occur to me unsought in a very long time.

It's December.

My life is teeming with change. Undercurrents run warm with adventure and anticipation; they keep my surface from freezing as the temperatures dip and the clamor of outdoor activities fades indoors.

The tree in the corner sparkles with white lights and sags under the weight of trinkets, of memories bottled and stopped up in the form of plastic snowflakes, glass pinecones, porcelain Mickeys and Minnies, and stuffed Santa Clauses.

Every day begins with static-backed music on the FM station. Maroon 5. Katy Perry. U2. Justin Timberlake. The Black-Eyed Peas. And these days, Mariah Carey's holiday hits.

It's December and we are digging in the laundry for matching wool socks to coddle our poor, shivering white toes.

Doing laundry has dropped to the bottom of a priority list packed with once-a-year tasks: gift wrapping, cider mulling, tree trimming, carol singing, and pressing whole cloves into the healthy skin of red apples.

I remember the Christmas when I received a blue sweater embroidered with Scottie dogs. It was darling, but I was twelve. And my hair was awkwardly short. And my hips were awkwardly skinny. My brothers opened twin Beebe guns and exclaimed over them, hopping around in pajama pants, clapping one another on their scrawny shoulders. Later, when our whole family trundled out to an open field to take turns clipping empty soup cans off fence posts, I wore the Scottie sweater. There are pictures of me, too tall for twelve, Olive Oyl thin, four forlorn Scotties in profile across my flat chest, with a Beebe gun tucked into my right shoulder. I am aiming down the sight with one eye squinted in deadly serious consideration of the Campbell label twenty yards away.

It's December. Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings. I push through shop doors merrily and say a silent 'you're welcome' with every clang.

Geese nose their way through the cloudless morning sky on their way to warmer climates and living, squawking landscapes. The birds that stick around for the holidays are easier to spot in the increasingly bare trees. They flit, mostly gray and black against the gray and black branches. I see a flare of red. Woodpecker. I see a flash of yellow. Warbler.

My cats lie uncurled and bellies up in absolute submission to the hissing, dancing fireplace, their winter god.

Breath materializes in clouds, reminding me that my life is happening now, in me, that the thoughts and dreams I've had I am still having, that my blood is warm, that adventure awaits me.

It's December.