Balancing loneliness and work time is a perpetual challenge for a person who works at home.
And so, on a dark gray day at the beginning of January, the Gardeners of Peace arrived for tea. We four met in a Master Gardener course and stay in touch, trying to get together to mark the four corners of the calendar.
My first winter here, having left behind a long-standing Solstice Tea celebrating the return of light to dark Alaska, I tried to resurrect that tea here. It migrated past the holidays to the quieter, calmer beginning of January, but reaches back to December for color and comfort.
Darkness comes early, but it’s not so threatening with friends ahouse. A wooden coffee table by the fireplace is littered with leftover gingersnaps, bowls of Clementines, chocolate, and spicy almonds. Teacups and saucers signal an event beyond the mug of everyday tea. At dusk, twinkle lights come on outside, we light fat candles, well burned in the holiday season but still luminous, and keep the fire stoked.
The other gops are a librarian (who came bearing homemade bread), a politician (the good kind), and a wordsmith (she named us). We talk gardens and children and husbands – trips and weddings and worries – and plants. We build on our friendship now, not getting to know you anymore, but catching up. It’s a nourishing, routine January thing – renewal.
One year the wordsmith brought crocus bulbs in a brown paper bag on which she wrote a Gertrude Jekyll quote: “There is always in February some one day, at least, when one smells the yet distant, but surely coming summer.”
We aren’t there yet – but not looking back at December any more either