Brief reflections on a "new year"
At this time of year, in early January, my thoughts turn to the great observer and chronicler of nature – Hal Borland – who lived on a farm in northwest Connecticut from the late 1930’s to his death in 1978, and who wrote 1,750 weekly nature editorials for Sunday editions of the N.Y. Times, as well as many books. He had grown up on the still-wild plains of eastern Nebraska in the early 1900’s and over his life, he cultivated a great knowledge of nature, its rhythms and cycles, its themes, and yes, its orderly ways. Here are a few seed-pods to carry around with you:
“A new year begins, as we say. And the latent bud on the branch doesn’t stir one whit, the blossom in the bulb sleeps undisturbed in the frozen ground. The woodchuck’s hibernating pulse doesn’t quicken one beat, and the deer in the thicket is just as hungry as she was yesterday. Man is the only animal to whom this new year is important. All the others live by the day and the season. Yes, the old year passes and we draw up the totals, but the stars wheel and the sun slowly widens its arc, creating their own years. Spring is already on its way, but the Spring knows no calendar…
The ultimate wisdom which deals with beginnings, remains locked in a seed. There it lies, the simplest fact of the universe and at the same time the one which calls forth faith rather than reason.
For all his learning or sophistication, man still instinctively reaches towards that force beyond. Only arrogance can deny its existence, and the denial falters in the face of evidence on every hand. In every tuft of grass, in every bird, in every opening bud, there it is.
There are no limits to either time or distance, except as man himself may make them. I have but to touch the wind to know these things.”