Thursday, June 26, 2008

Twelve Moons of the Year. Hal Borland.

New York: Alfred A. Knopf

Why read it? Each Sunday, Hal Borland published essays on the editorial page in the New York Times on the seasons in Connecticut where he lived. He wanted to show New Yorkers that there was life outside of New York City. These essays are beautifully written short gems with not a word wasted, describing the changing seasons in rural New England. He expresses the spirit of the seasons using all of the senses. His essays in the book, one for each day of the year, are "sheer celebrations of life."

The following sentences taken from the essays for each month of the year should cause you to recall your own memories of each season.

January: "January can be cold, raw, bitter, icy, edged with a wind that chills the marrow and congeals the blood."

February: "We can split atoms, send rockets to the moon, fly faster than sound, but we still can't subdue a blizzard."

March: "March means maybe, but don't bet on it. There are no rules for March. March is spring, sort of, usually."

April: "By April you begin to see the buds against the sky."

May: "May is apple blossoms and lilacs, and if any other month can surpass that combination we have yet to learn its name."

June: "The world is new and young in the June dawn, fresh and sweet and almost innocent."

July: "By the first week in July the day lilies at the roadside and the brown-eyed Susans in the old pastures splash the countryside with Van Gogh orange."

August: "August comes with hot days, warm nights, a brassy sun, and something in the air, perhaps the season itself, that begins to rust the high hung leaves of the elms. The night still twinkles with fireflies but the day's heat lingers and the air has a dusty August scent, the smell of languid summer."

September: "September comes, and with it a sense of autumn. Summer thins away."

October: "October...crisp nights, mild days, and the whole satisfaction of ripeness and achievement. October is the glory and the magnificence of the year's late afternoon."

November: "November is simply that interval between colorful October and dark December. The owls are the voices of November nights...a chilly sound, a dark and frosty sound that hints of ice and snow...a fireside sound, one that goes with wood smoke and sheltered evenings...winds that rattle the latch. November brings long, chill nights of glittering stars and restless whispery leaves."

December: "December...winter's moon with more than fourteen hours of darkness to rule in cold splendor. Behind the vanished complexity of leaf and blossom is the greater complexity of their source.... Those stark winter trees...are already budded with next April's leaves...the ultimate riddle of complexity, for it is the root of life itself."

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