The darkness is moving in all around us. I awake in the dark and turn lights on as I move from room to room and ready myself for a day of work under the bank of fluorescent lights hovering over cubes within the suspended ceilings in the capital-city downtown office building. I can see the sunshine in my daily walks through the skyway system, and upon leaving work to pick my son up from his day in school. From there it is a rush against the turning of the Earth as the sun settles in the sky while we hurry home to throw a football in the yard, shoot basketballs in the neighbor’s driveway, or toss a baseball back and forth. By the time we are called in for dinner, the darkness has almost enveloped us for the night and our play will be reserved for indoor activities until an early call to peel off and go to bed.
The long days of summer are gone and the garden has been put to rest. The leaves are piled high in the compost heap and the raised beds are all covered in straw. A gopher, some rabbits and many field mice scurry amongst the beds digging holes and piling dirt and causing worry to the gardener that refuses to use poisons or chemicals in his dirt that grows so much food to sustain his family. But the garden paradise he has created that flourishes with lush green growth from May to October has also created a panacea for other critters to call home. The rabbits and the mice he can live with, but this gopher going around digging tunnels and leaving gigantic piles of excavated dirt around his garden is the source of new frustration and worry. Is it time to get a gun?
Fall and winter is the time for reflection and also a time to let the darkness settle in all around us. We can be overwhelmed with thoughts of doomsday, as the Christmas shopping season ramps up and the Salvation Army bell ringers take up positions in the skyways, outside on downtown street corners and at the entrances of big boxes everywhere. We are also given a gift of time as the summer activities end, the harvest is over, and we sit indoors with our families and ourselves driving each other crazy. It is a time to read, play guitar and to write down thoughts. Winter provides opportunity to be poetic and to appreciate our longing for summer, even as the beauty of a winter snowfall covers pine and spruce trees and leaves the bird feeders at the center of the winter ecological backyard community.
And so, my guitar has been liberated from its stand and its strings are tenderly being caressed awake by my fingers several times a week as they mindlessly pick tunes and melodies on it and search for a lost voice put away early last spring. My son plays marbles and listens, sometimes sings along, and sometimes asks me to stop to join in his marble game. From upstairs I hear my wife’s voice say, “that was pretty, whose song was that?” Usually I don’t answer, embarrassed and slightly annoyed that I have to tell her that the origin of the song is unknown and has simply come with the darkness of the season. But, I am thankful for the effortlessness of my fingers as they pluck out melodies and a rhythm while my thumb keeps pace with a steady bass line on the low strings. Somehow my mind has picked out the songs of the darkness for my fingers to translate and the rooms of the house fill with a new lightness.
As I play marbles with my son, my thoughts remain on the guitar and I hear my voice call from within. I want to go back and pick it up and sing songs I’ve learned as my fingers provide the accompaniment. But, that will have to wait as my fingers struggle with a newer skill and get thoroughly trounced by smaller and defter fingers shooting marbles along side of me.