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January 2, 2008
Late afternoon, and the sun is still out. But it will be cold tonight, they say, and I am feeling the need of something against the encroachment of the dark. So I tuck another couple of sticks into the fire, down under the bigger logs where it will do some good, and soon I have a merry blaze. Then I make a nice pot of tea and settle myself on the couch. Let the cold and dark settle on us, let the wind rip through the stalwart hedge out along the drive: I now have hot tea and a fire.

And of course, I have my new seed catalogues. They arrive between Christmas and New Year's Day, seven or eight bright books of gorgeous flowers and perfect vegetables. Last year, I had to put myself on a seed fast -- I bought hardly any seeds or plants, instead starting new plants from cuttings of old ones. This year will be the same: we saved seeds and brought in plants to keep through the winter, so that we can make cuttings in spring and set them out again for another growing season. So I won't be buying much from the catalogues.

But I can look at other flowers and love them. I can imagine gardens that need never come into actual being. I can dream of roses I may never actually plant and grow. Sometimes -- often, really -- it is enough to know of a beautiful thing, enough to know that it is in our world. Just because something is beautiful doesn't mean I must own it. It is enough just to know that it exists.

There is more than one kind of love, you know. Erotic love, we keep forgetting, isn't just love involving sex: it's more precisely love involving possession. Other love exists, love content to appreciate, love that need not engulf in order to be satisfied. Love that simply wishes the beloved well, delighting in the very existence of the beloved, is a mighty joyful thing. And -- unlike its erotic cousin -- that love can be satisfied.
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