I have it on good authority that the snowflake has long been up at the crossroads of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in New York City. Shop windows are already dressed for the coming holidays, and December 2nd is the date for lighting the Rockefeller Center tree.
Ice-skating continues on manufactured outdoor rinks, not only at Rockefeller Center, but also at the Harlem Meer and “The Pond” at Bryant Park, where the carousel sits empty in the shadow of the next new thing.
In the country, December unfolds more peaceably. There is no snow yet, though it’s bound to come soon. For now, the leaves are down, revealing the architecture of the trees. As the sun drops, they project long-limbed patterns across the russet ground.
Keats called December “drear-nighted.” I don’t agree, for December has a brightness all its own. As I never can when the trees are in full leaf, I’m able to see well into the woods. I spy the deer coming from the pond before they see me. The atmosphere itself is clarified: the summer’s haze, with nothing to suspend it, falls away.
The countryside reclaims December and returns it to the natural world: the only ornaments right now are juncos flitting in the hemlock and a blue jay perched on a leafless branch.