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all the foundations of soil renain. Upon this lies, white and tranquil, the emblem of newness and purity, the virgin robes of the yet unstained year.
2. FEBRUARY! The day gains upon the night. The strife of heat and cold is scarce begun. The winds that come from the desolate north wander through forests of frost-cracking boughs, and shout in the air the weird cries of the northern beigs and ice-resounding
Yet, as the month wears on, the silent work begins, though storms rage.
The earth is hidden yet, but not dead. The sun is drawing near. The storms cry out. But the Sun is not heard in all the heavens. Yet he whispers words of deliverance into the ears of every sleeping seed and root that lies beneath the snow.
The day opens; but the night shuts the earth with its frost-lock. They strive together; but the darkness and the cold are growing weaker. On some nights they forget to work.
3. March! The conflict is more turbulent; but the victory is gained. The world awakes. There come voices from long-hidden birds. The smell of the soil is in the air. The sullen ice, retreating from
open field and all sunny places, has slunk to the north of every fence and rock. The knolls and banks that face the east or south sigh for release, and begin to lift up a thousand tiny palms.
4. APRIL! The singing month. Many voices of many birds call for resurrection over the graves of flowers, and they come forth. Go see what they have lost. What have ice and snow and storm done unto them? How did they fall into the earth stripped and bare ? how do they come forth opening and glorified ? Is it, then, so fearful a thing to lie in the grave ? In its wild career, shaking and scourged of storms through its orbit, the earth has scattered away no treasures. The Hand that governs in April governed in January. You have not lost what God has only hidden. You lose nothing in struggle, in trial, in bitter distress. If called to shed thy joys as trees their leaves, if the affections be driven back into the heart as the life of flowers to their roots, yet be patient. Thou shalt lift up thy leaf-covered boughs again. Thou shalt shoot forth from thy roots new flowers. Be patient. Wait. When it is February, April is not far off. Secretly the plants love each other.
5. May! () flower-month! perfect the harvests of flowers ; be not niggardly. Search out the cold and resentful nooks that refused the sun, casting back its rays from disdainful ice, and plant flowers
even there. There is goodness in the worst. There is warmth in the coldness. The silent, hopeful, unbreathing sun, that will not fret or despond, but carries a placid brow through the unwrinkled heavens, at length conquers the very rocks ; and lichens grow, and inconspicuously blossom. What shall not Time do that carries in its bosom Love?
6. JUNE! Rest! This is the year's bower. Sit down within it. Wipe from thy brow the toil. The elements are thy servants. The dews bring thee jewels. The winds bring perfume. The Earth shows thee all her treasure. The forests sing to thee. The air is all sweetness, as if all the angels of God had gone through it, bearing spices homeward. The storms are but as flocks of mighty birds that spread their wings, and sing in the high heaven. Speak to God now,
O Father ! where art thou ? ” and out of every flower and tree, and silver pool, and twined thicket, a voice will come,
“ God is in me.” The earth cries to the heavens, “ God is here!” and the heavens cry to the earth, “God is here !” The sea claims him. The land hath him. His footsteps are upon the deep. He sitteth upon the circle of the earth. O sunny joys of the sunny month, yet soft and temperate, how soon will the eager months that come burning from the equator scorch you !
7. July! Rouse up! The temperate heats that filled the air are raging forward to glow and overfill the earth with hotness. Must it be thus in everything, that June shall rush toward August ? Or is it not that there are deep and unreached places for whose sake the probing sun pierces down its glowing hands ? There is a deeper work than June can perform. The Earth shall drink of the heat before she knows her nature or her strength. Then shall she bring forth to the uttermost the treasures of ber bosom; for there are things hidden far down, and the deep things of life are not known till the fire reveals them.
8. AUGUST! Reign, thou fire-month! What canst thou do? Neither shalt thou destroy the earth, whom frosts and ice could not destroy. The vines droop, the trees stagger, the broad-palmed leaves give thee their moisture, and hang down; but every night the dew pities them. Yet there are flowers that look thee in the eye, fierce Sun, all day long, and wink not. This is the rejoicing month for joyful insects. If our unselfish eye would behold it, it is the most populous and the happiest month. The herds plash in the sedge ; fish seek the deeper pools; forest fowl lead out their young; the air is resonant of insect orchestras, each one carrying his part in Nature's grand harmony. August, thou art the ripeness of the year! Thou art the glowing center of the circle !
9. SEPTEMBER! There are thoughts in thy heart of death. Thou art doing a secret work, and heaping up treasures for another year. The unborn infant-buds which thou art tending are more than all the living leaves. Thy robes are luxuriant, but worn with softened pride. More dear, less beautiful, than June, thou art the heart's month. Not till the heats of summer are gone, while all its growths remain, do we know the fullness of life. Thy hands are stretched out, and clasp the glowing palm of August and the fruit-smelling hand of October. Thou dividest them asunder, and art thyself molded of
. them both.
10. OCTOBER! Orchard of the year, bend thy boughs to the earth, redolent of glowing fruit! Ripened seeds shake in their pods. Apples drop in the stillest hours. Leaves begin to let go when no wind is out, and swing in long waverings to the earth, which they touch without sound, and lie looking up, till winds rake them, and heap them in fence-corners. When the gales come through the trees, the yellow leaves trail like sparks at night behind the flying engine. The woods are thinner, so that we can see the heavens plainer as we lie dreaming on the yet warm moss by the singing spring. The days are calm. The nights are tranquil.
The Year's work is done. She walks in gorgeous apparel, looking upon her long labor; and her serene eye saith, “It is good.”
11. NOVEMBER! Patient watcher, thou art asking to lay down thy tasks. Life to thee now is only a task accomplished. In the night-time thou liest down, and the messengers of winter deck thee with hoar-frosts for thy burial. The morning looks upon thy • jewels, and they perish while it gazes. Wilt thou not come, O December?
12. DECEMBER ! Silently the month advances. There is nothing to destroy, but much to bury. Bury then, thou snow, that slumberously fallest through the still air, the hedge-rows of leaves! Muffle thy cold wool about the feet of shivering trees ! Bury all that the year hath known! and let thy brilliant stars, that never shine as they do in thy frostiest nights, behold the work! But know, O month of destruction! that in thy constellation is set that Star, whose rising is the sign, forevermore, that there is life in death. Thou art the month of resurrection. In thee the Christ came. Every star that looks down upon thy labor and toil of burial knows that all things shall come forth again. Storms shall sob themselves to sleep. Silence shall find a voice. Death shall live ; Life shall rejoice; Winter shall break forth, and blossom into Spring ; Spring shall put on her glorious apparel, and be called Summer. It is life, it is life, through the whole year!
COMING AND GOING.
ONCE came to our fields a pair of birds that had never built a nesį nor seen a winter. O, how beautiful was everything! The fields were full of flowers, and the grass was growing tall, and the bees were humming everywhere. Then one of the birds fell to singing; and the other bird said, “Who told you to sing ?” And he answered, “ The flowers told me, and the bees told me, and the winds and leaves told me, and the blue sky told me, and you told me to sing.” Then his mate answered, “ When did I tell you to sing ?” And he said, “ Every time you brought in tender grass for the nest, and every time your soft wings fluttered off again for hair and feathers to line the nest.” Then his mate said, “ What are you singing about?” And he answered, “I am singing about everything and nothing. It is because I am so happy that I sing."
By and by, five little speckled eggs were in the nest; and his mate said, “ Is there anything in all the world as pretty as my eggs?” Then they both looked down on some people that were passing by, and pitied them because they were not birds, and had no nests with eggs in them. Then the father-bird sang a melancholy song because he pitied folks that had no nests, but had to live in houses.
In a week or two, one day, when the father-bird came home, the mother-bird said, “O, what do you think has happened?” “What?”
? “ One of my eggs has been peeping and moving !” Pretty soon another
ege moved under her feathers, and then another and another, till five little birds were born.
Now the father-bird sung louder and louder than ever. The motherbird, too, wanted to sing ; but she had no time, and so she turned her song
into work. So hungry were these little birds, that it kept both parents busy feeding them. Away each one flew. The moment the little birds heard their wings fluttering again among the leaves,
five yellow mouthis flew open so wide that nothing could be seen but five yellow mouths.
“ Can anybody be happier ? ” said the father-bird to the motherbird. • We will live in this tree always; for there is no sorrow here. It is a tree that always bears joy." The
very next day one of the birds dropped out of the nest, and a cat ate it up in a minute, and only four remained ; and the parentbirds were very sad, and there was no song all that day nor the next. Soon the little birds were big enough to fly; and great was their parents' joy to see them leave the nest, and sit crumpled up upon the branches. There was then a great time. One would have thought the two old birds were two French dancing-masters, talking and chattering, and scolding the little birds to make them go alone. The first bird that tried flew from one branch to another, and the parents praised him; and the other little birds wondered how he did it. And lie was so vain of it that he tried again, and flew and few, and could n't stop flying, till he fell plump down by the house-door; and then a little boy caught him and carried him into the house, and only three birds were left. Then the old birds thought that the sun was not as bright as it used to be, and they did not sing as often. In a little time the other birds had learned to use their wings; and away
and found their own food, and made their own beds; and their parents never saw them any more.
Then the old birds sat silent, and looked at each other a long while,
At last the wife-bird said,
“I am thinking how everything changes. The leaves are falling down from off this tree, and soon there will be no roof over our heads; the flowers are all gone, or going; last night there was a frost ; almost all the birds are flown away, and I am very uneasy. Something calls me, and I feel restless as if I would fly far away.”
“ Let us fly away together ! ”
Then they rose silently; and, lifting themselves far up in the air, they looked to the north : far away they saw the snow coming. They looked to the south : there they saw green leaves. All day they flew,