Backyard Potterer's journal - December

Illustrated and written by: Tiit Kändler, teadus.ee
Translation: Liis
December 11
The year is ending, willy-nilly, and it seems as if  - well, not seems really, it simply is so – the yard has known long ago. It has decided not to undertake any changes whatsoever, just see what happens when the sky of the first month of the new year stretches above it, as always pure blue as at no other time.
It is just the time to go outside the yard, to extend the limits of the yard. But not too much either so that one wouldn’t be able to get back. Done, and it is of course best done together. In the yard one can keep busy on one’s own, it is safe – although you of course never know if a branch on the two hundred years old pine might not tire and rush towards earth to find support at just the moment when the Potterer rests his back against its crocodile-barked trunk – but outside the yard it is better being together.
It may happen for instance that the sun sends its light through the atmosphere between the trunks in the sparse pine copse which in a miraculous way just then is filled with a lace of ethereal water drops. And then the air suddenly looses its otherwise evident transparency and reveals a secret that it mostly prefers to keep to itself – it makes the rays of the sun visible, and they form bundles. But when you are alone you might happen to be looking in the opposite direction, where the pearly water drops have decorated the ordinary and otherwise not particularly noteworthy stump of a bush and turned it into an Eastern pearl castle  - and so would not see how the sun makes the laws for the dispersion of its light visible.

On such occasions another pair of eyes is essential and to-day the Potterer has been lucky. So lucky that he does not know whether to immerse himself in that other pair of eyes or to look at what this pair of eyes sees and try to catch the essence of light as it evolves in the pine copse that ordinarily has not even earned the name of a copse.
The rays of the sun materialise in bundles that seem as if they could even carry the Potterer and his beloved, if they only were to undertake the journey and would start climbing along this tilted sun path to the unknown tip of our known world.
Just as if this embodiment of the laws of optics were not enough the air some hundred metres away is suddenly filled with snow-white little dots welling straight down from above, in a chaotic yet regular earth-directed flow. It is hail that straight in front of the Potterer and his love demonstrates the random  yet purposeful progress of the hail pandemonium. The hail cloud has a sharply defined edge and it approaches them silently but relentlessly, quite as the sun globe approaches the crown of the stumpy pine, then to disappear behind it, appearing again on the other side.
And then it has arrived, the hail falls on their heads in an inexorable but in its way indifferent fashion, and soon leaves them, proceeding to where at their backs the evergreen heath's slightly snowy coat is to be seen.
And is it necessary to add that when they get to the sea and to the sand dunes, then the ever broadening bundles of sun rays jump to the green pine verge of the peninsula bordering the bay at right, that is interspersed with some few greyish-yellow little birch copses and paint it, moving purposefully from left to right – soundlessly, it might be added here to no purpose – into a palette containing such unexpected colours that might maybe be expected on the kitchen floor of an undernourished artist having left his first youth, but never from the otherwise quite strict and orderly shore of a native sea bay.
The Christmas gift has been received, it is time to return to the yard. It already waits, tits as Christmas baubles in the spruce and the nuthatch as a gnome by daylight on the pine trunk.
 
December 13
The Potterer steps out on the veranda and throws a mandarin peel down into the yard. The mandarin is a symbol of the approaching Christmas for the Potterer. Even when mandarins were not to be had anywhere else except in a picture book this fruit still was tied to Christmas.
The mandarin peel whirls down and stands out. It is painfully visible, even more so than it was visible on the round little table covered with the red tablecloth with the little white dots.
From this the Potterer sees that this year the weather is extraordinary. If the yard were covered with snow, as it has been in previous years, the mandarin peel would not be noted. But now there is no snow, there is only grass, the green colour of which rather reminds of early autumn than a young beginning winter. A mandarin peel on green early winter grass – is this not the apotheosis of the universal global warming, the Potterer thinks and goes to light the sauna stove fire.
 
December 24
The December heat wave arrives. Christmas peace is announced. In the words of Queen Christina, the selfsame Swedish Christina who let Axel Oxenstierna reign, while she herself invited Descartes from France and other in her opinion learned men, to entertain her. Descartes had just finished the Cartesian coordinate system, but never quite managed to find his position in Sweden, caught a cold and just simply died. The Potterer leaves his yard and goes to see how peaceful it might be in the Raekoja square in Tallinn in the time of Christmas peace. There was no peace or suchlike. The children jostled in the queue to Father Christmas’s hut as their grandfathers once did in the post-Stalin sugar queues, in the stalls things are sold that nobody needs which is why all anxiously want to buy the things and mill around to and fro.

From inside the spruce however suddenly the chirping of sparrows is heard. The potterer can’t believe his ears and soon he has to not believe his eyes either because believe it or not, a nice flock of sparrows has moved into the Christmas tree. Into the same tree that was once upright, once down. At the moment up. Interesting, the Potterer thinks, sparrows have not been seen for a long time in the city but now the whole spruce is full of them. Have to go and see, they might have moved into the spruce in my yard too. And he goes. As soon as he turns his back the sparrow flock takes flight and disappears into the lead-grey sky.
In the yard everything is in its place and there are no sparrows whatsoever in the spruce, only some tits for ornaments on it.
 
December 27
The wind tries to pry the Potterer away from the yard but doesn't quite succeed. From somewhere tree leaves are carried into the yard with the wind, probably from Latvia. Why precisely Latvia the Potterer cannot say, it simply feels like that. It is warm as in a niggardly summer but there is no summer feeling. Because actually it is winter. But to tell the truth there is no winter feeling either. A season that not even has a name has arrived in the yard. In some places the nameless soldier is honoured. So let us then honour the nameless season.
Something begins to fall down that cannot be called neither rain nor snow nor slush nor hail. One more thing with no name. The name has been lost.
 
 


 

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