By Hal Borland
December is the year in age and wisdom, a woman with starlight in her frosted hair and a snowflake on her cheek and a sprig of holly on her coat. The light in her blue eyes is young as this morning and old as time. She has known youth and love and age and heartbreak, and she still can smile, knowing that life is not all of either. She is December, which is a kind of summation not only of the year but of all years' ending.
For December is bare trees and the evergreens, it is rustling weed stem in the ruthless wind and partridgeberry on the hillside. It is ground pine, older than the hills where it grows, and it is a seeding maple from two years ago clinging to one last scarlet leaf. It is a stiff-tailed young squirrel scrambling up an oak tree, and it is the masked coon in the moonlit cornfield, listening for the hounds. It is ice on the pond and lichen on the rock and a flock of chickadees in the pine thicket.
December is a blizzard in Wyoming and a gale on the Lakes and the Berkshires frosted like a plate of cupcakes. It's fir trees going to the cities by the truckload, and red ribbon by the mile and tinsel everywhere. It's so many days till You-Know-When. It's the Winter solstice and the shortest day, and it's a snow shovel and galoshes and a muffler around the neck. It's 30 below in Medicine Hat.
December is the hungry owl and the fugitive rabbit, the woodchuck abed and the crow all alone in the pasture. It's soup in the kettle and a log in the fireplace and long wool socks. It's a wind at the door and a whisper in the air and a hush on the evening when the carols are sung. It's the wonder and the glory, and the holidays.
Photo courtesy of http://www.weathernewengland.com