Saturday, December 19, 2009

Guest Blog: Country Year's End

By Country Bumpkin
Almost by stealth, the end of 2009 has crept into view and one is -- as usual -- wondering where the months from January to November have gone. It seems to be true that as one gets older time seems to go faster. It was once explained to me by a wise man that it is a matter of percentages -- every hour that passes is a smaller percentage of all the hours you have lived, and therefore time seems to be speeding up.

Feel free to sneer, but if you do then it’s incumbent on you to come up with a theory of your own. All I can tell you is that . . . Oh, heck. I'm starting to repeat myself.

What isn't so easily explained is the stealth part. I think it might have something to do with the length of the cold season here, which started in May and carried on pretty much all the way to late November. Things are warming up now, at long last, and we are getting pleasant temperatures up in the mid-20s and have put the winter woollies away in a drawer. But just in case the globe isn't warming, we've laid down our 2010 stocks of firewood which are drying nicely and should be in perfect condition at whatever date the next cold weather returns.

By that last sentence I have revealed to those of you who don't already know that we have taken our house off the market. Firstly, the recovery of the real estate market seems to have stalled -- that part of the recession is not quite over yet, it seems. Secondly the arithmetic of staying here took on a new twist, which goes something like this:

When we put our house on the market right at the beginning of the dreadful cold weather of which last winter consisted, we paid the real estate agent $1,500 as our contribution to advertising. As the weeks ticked by we got to the time of year when the garden needed its winter haircut, the roses and shrubs and trees needed pruning, the residue had to be taken to the dump -- you know the routine. So, feeling lethargic and not really up to the job ourselves -- and the size of our garden was one of the reasons for wanting to move somewhere smaller -- we hired a man. He did all the work I've described and then some, and charged us a little over $300 for the whole job. It will take you no more than a split second to work out that we can get 5 years of winter gardening for a single advertising contribution. And that way we don't have to uproot ourselves -- we can carry on enjoying the comfort and space of the house we've got. And vanity has its part to play in this too -- everyone who comes here (like the young man I hired to check over our roof yesterday) says what a lovely place and garden we've got. Why would we deprive ourselves of praise? It isn’t natural.

We are moving into the festival season now, of course. For many of you it will begin with Chanukah Eve and the lighting of the first candle, followed no doubt by potato pancakes. For almost all of you others, Christmas is only a week away.

So, please accept -- whatever tradition you follow -- our very warm wishes for a peaceful season among your loved ones. May 2010 bring a calming of the tensions and disturbances which still surround all of us, though that wish once made has an air of futility about it because we all know in our bones that 2010 will be no less fraught than 2009. Let it be our aim, at the very least, to try and arrange our own lives in such a way that we stay out of the fray as best we can.

So, take care of yourselves. Feast well in the coming weeks!

Country Bumpkin is my cousin, a bibliophile and man of the world who lives in New Zealand.

He is the author of
Return to the Schilderwald -- A Jew Comes Home After Sixty-Eight Years. Among his other guest blogs are Country Spring No. 7, Country Cooing & Cooling, Country Feasts & Festivities, Country Reminiscences, Country Climate Change, Country Reintegration, Country Castles, Country Travel, Country Polikarpovs, Country History, The Country Way of All Flesh, Country Images, Country Winter and Country Ice.

Photograph by Carola Lundmark

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