“No year stands by itself, any more than any day stands alone. There is the continuity of all the years in the trees, the grass, even in the stones on the hilltops. Even in man. For time flows like water, eroding and building, shaping and ever flowing; and time is a part of us, not only our years, as we speak of them, but our lives, our thoughts. All our yesterdays are summarized in our now, and all the tomorrows are ours to shape.” – Hal Borland, Sundial of the Seasons
My friend Kathy and I went to Whitesbog yesterday hoping to see the Tundra Swans that winter there. We didn’t find any swans, nor did we find any sign of winter. The closest we came to any waterfowl were a few shed feathers – white – on the shoreline of one of the abandoned bogs about two miles into our walk. So the swans are there somewhere in that big emptiness. The Pine Barrens feel truly barren at this season; there is nothing but the wind and the sun, and yesterday, the company of a friend.
A more results-oriented person might say that we saw nothing yesterday in our six hours of wandering; because we didn’t see the swans we set out for, but I would disagree. Turkey vultures were our chaperones as we followed deer and raccoon tracks along the elevated dikes of the bogs and there was the play of sunlight on the tea-stained water of the bogs. We caught glimpses of the pygmy pine forest along one of the many roads that bisect the barrens and found pitcher plants amid the spaghum moss at Webbs Mill Bog. Even in this time of rest that should be winter but is not, even in this barren place there is beauty and promise for spring and the new year.
My wish at year’s end is that we shoud all find hope and beauty, even the unexpected, in the coming new year.