First, before I breathe a word about gardens, birds, etc. I want to straighten something out that has been confusing people. St. John's Episcopal Church will serve a Christmas Eve dinner for all emergency services personnel from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m.
Then, on Friday, Dec. 28, the church will serve its monthly Soul Kitchen dinner from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The dinner is open to anyone who wants to come, without charge. Donations are welcome.
And just a few nights after that, American Legion Post 22 will host a New Year's Eve celebration, featuring the Vine Dawgz band, wine and beer tasting, a tri-tip dinner, a champagne toast, and all kinds of prizes. Prices: $45 paid in advance, $55 at the door, and $35 for the 9 p.m. party only — no dinner
I hope everybody's up to date now!
Like everyone else's gardens, mine has been a grand mishmash of colors and seasons. The green maple came into its glorious ruby red fashion show, then changed to a gold/pink outfit before retiring for the rest of the season. Most of the leaves have gone. There is a pile in the street which would do credit to Central Park (NYC)!
Fran raked leaves weekly for over a month, Ron cleaned them from the eaves and roof, and Rosie and Bud finished the job last week. There are still a few die-hards on the ground and in flower beds, but they are competing with still-budding roses and early paper-whites and even hibiscuses (hibisci?) and impatiens.
Red berry bushes like holly, hawthorn and pyracanthus are in their timely glory, balanced by early camellias and very late-clinging sasanqua camellias.
Given the whole botanical uproar, to say nothing of Lake Paden showing up in the backyard now and again, I began counting. There are 12 non-deciduous trees, including a holly and a kumquat (the hawthorn can't make up its mind, so I didn't count it). That leaves 10 coniferous trees, most of which are 70 or 80 feet high.
I gave up on the deciduous trees at 30 or so, because some of the bushes are as large as some of the smaller trees. There are deciduous spring-blooming bushes which are testing some blooms now, and some very solid non-deciduous citizens just staying put and hunching their shoulders into the rain and wind.
The Letters section of the New York Times Book Review often contains some gems, such as: "Americans do not know their global geography very well. Our geographic illiteracy constitutes a threat to national security, contributing to poorly informed decision-making in foreign policy and to ill-advised military interventions. ..." — Harm De Blij, professor of geography at Michigan State University. Well, we've been getting some hard lessons over the past 10 years or better. There are countries all over the world that my elementary school classes never heard or dreamed of. We studied in a very unexciting way about the U.S. and maybe a few western European countries, and that was all.
I would hope that geography from town, county and state on to country, continent and all the rest of the world is thoroughly covered by the time students graduate from high school (to be hoped) and at least by the end of four years of college (to be demanded). Economics and population diversity, at least, occasion this study. Wars are not the only incentive.
And now, amidst a world of ignorance, disaster, poverty, destruction, death and overdone frenzies of shopping and decorations, comes Christmas. For those who are Christian — and even for some who are not — it can, and should, be a quiet time of assurance, healing and hope. Mankind, egotistical and arrogant, needs to be brought to its knees to learn some vital lessons from a Creator, Force, Principle or whatever name chosen.
Look at the skies — depths, clouds, stars, sun, moon, planets, galaxies. Look at the earth — mountains, plains, rivers, oceans and all the forms of vegetation. Then look at living beings and their variations — mankind, animals, birds, fish, reptiles.
I have no argument with science; it is simply the use of created substances and physical laws that mankind keeps discovering bit by bit.
And so have a merry Christmas in all the meaning of the words, and let us work for a good and compassionate year ahead. We should be heartened by all the stories of those volunteering to help others less fortunate, and hope that this helping goes on beyond the holidays.
In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, that young playboy changed into beloved lover of animals and people: "Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
"O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born in to eternal life."
Gwin Paden has been in Lodi since 1957 and has been involved with a lot of community interests and purposes. She and her first husband raised four beloved children, and now she and her second husband are trying to herd four cats. Shalom!