This dawn beckons, the first morning of a new year, and yet I find myself reluctant to bid goodbye to the old. The Year 2013 Of Our Lord was a good year on the Kansas prairie, filled with change and happy moments. It spanned the building of a barn and the quickening of that simple enclosure's spirit by the addition of warm-blooded inhabitants to the environs. It embraced an active and expanding garden, with roses and grasses and shrubs and perennials to satisfy any man and swoon many a maiden. It connected aging man to growing opportunities, moved impatient gardener closer to Nirvana, and forced change where change needed made. Experience has added yet another year to this gardener's repertoire, a hedge against the improper choices of youth and recklessness.
On the other face, 2013 brought Japanese Beetles to my garden, and revealed evidence of the existence of a still unknown creature who likes to root through the soil in search of grubs, destroying iris and daffodil alike. It brought coyotes, a multitude of white-tailed and quite hungry deer, furry rabbits and long sinuous silent snakes. It oversaw the return of my weed nemesis, the Common Dayflower, to my landscaping, and the rapid advance of a prize blackberry into an impenetrable and unproductive thicket. It disappointed me with a lack of fruit in the orchard and the disappearance of grapes from the vine. Snow fell in very late April and Spring was late. Winter came early in October and deepened in December, shortening the golden period of the garden.
Perhaps this new year, 2014, is good riddance to the old, best welcomed in its arrival rather than lamented as change. Today, like the concrete gnome that lays at the foot of my sidewalk, this gardener and his garden rests. Like the gnome, the garden is cold and dead, brittle and brown from the view of the outside world, inert and languid. Like the gnome, the aging gardener will also nap today, but indoors, his new resolution to spend at least part of every seventh day this year imitating the gnome, an unread book on his stomach and smiling from a pleasant dream. With the New Year, and the growing length of each new day, hope and happiness begin again.