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Doesn’t it seem rather uncivilized and frankly ugly that income tax reporting happens on April 15th? Or in April at all? In the middle of spring?? It does to me.

Who wants to think about money and expenses and unreported tips and foreign income and grantors and transferors when one should be traipsing through the wildflowers? Not me. Okay, taxes are one of those “get to” things I wrote about earlier, because if I didn’t have enough income to even report, I’d be pretty darn poor. However, why couldn’t this heinous task be set for, say, November 15th, after which we’d celebrate Thanksgiving, being thankful for all we have, including income?

My sister, a CPA, has been my tax accountant for many years. She did this for me out of love, in exchange for a few greeting cards and perhaps a box of chocolate covered pretzels (which I often forgot). Now, however, she’s retired. A local friend agreed to take me on as a client. I asked him for a deadline for all my info and materials and he suggested March 15th. Okay. But then he stretched that to the last week of March. Uh-oh. Never remove a deadline from a deadline-dependent artist type who hates numbers and figures. Now I’ve hardly begun. The pile of papers on the dining room table grows more menacing by the day.

I like to think that Mary Oliver and I would have been right in step with each other, with regard to taxes. She wrote a poem titled “Percy Speaks While I Am Doing the Taxes.” I’ve copied it for you, below. Surely she, like I, would like to have simply tossed all her receipts into a box and handed that over to the hapless accountant. “Do your worst, fine fellow! I can’t be bothered. I have spring to attend to.” Surely she, like I, would so much rather have been out in the woods somewhere with a small dog, sending love and kisses to the baby wildflowers, tiny shoots of green, and blue blue sky. As my sister, too, would rather have done for all those years. Now she is released from my 1040, Schedule C, Business Use of Home, 1099, etc., etc. Whereas I will ever and always, in Just-spring, have a pile of papers on the dining room table, mocking me.

I add now, to my list of desired household employees, in addition to the“dreamy-eyed gardener,” a bright-eyed, cheerful bookkeeper.

Percy Speaks While I Am Doing the Taxes – Mary Oliver

First of all, I do not want to be doing this.
Second of all, Percy does not want me
to be doing this.
bent over the desk like a besieged person
with a dull pencil and innumerable lists
of numbers.

Outside the water is blue, the sky is clear,
the tide rising.
Percy, I say, this has to be done. This is
essential. I’ll be finished eventually.

“Keep me in your thoughts,” he replies. “Just because
I can’t count to ten doesn’t mean
I don’t remember yesterday, or anticipate today.
I’ll give you ten more minutes,” and he does.
Then shouts—who could resist—his
favorite words: Let’s go!

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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