The Winter of Our Discontent

"A cantankerous old woman is never so annoying as when she is in some way related to you."
The pine warbler eats its neighbors in the pine tree-insects and spiders-as well as seeds and berries. As it creeps over the bark of the tree, the warbler's olive green and yellow plumage sometimes becomes stained with pine resin.

Rachel comes to take my dishes. I watch her move slowly and silently. I have cleaned my plate tonight, have used my biscuit to polish its surface. The dish is one Rachel makes from an old recipe card titled Irma's Beef Dinner. The card is worn around the edges and splattered with tomato sauce and onion soup. Rachel doesn't know who Irma is, she has told me, and she doesn't remember how she came by the recipe card. Rachel may be excused from remembering such details.

As for me, perhaps I may be excused from remembering details, also. I have been young, but now I am old. That is the usual course, though I have often dreamed of how it would be to say I have been old and now I am young, to implant my old mind into my youthful body of fifty or sixty years ago. I would even trim it to twenty or thirty if someone were granting favors. Or ten.

In matters of money I have been poor, and now I am rich. I have often considered how it might have been had my youth intersected at some point with my wealth. But I have no time for dreams now, nor for regrets. I have had plenty of both in my life, as any other man or woman, but I give my attention now to staying alive. It is an endeavor at which I continue to toil in spite of its many inscrutabilities, for to give it up would be to yield to nothingness, an enemy I am not eager to confront.

I am in the cold season of life, and the words that come to mind as I rise in the morning are these: "Now, is the winter of our discontent." I borrow them from William Faulkner, a ...

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The Winter of Our Discontent
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May 2007

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