Like somebody who sees things when he’s dreaming And after the dream lives with the aftermath Of what he felt, no other trace remaining,
So I live now, for what I saw departs And is almost lost, although a distilled sweetness Still drops from it into my inner heart.
From A Dream of Solstice by Seamus Heaney
This has been a year of stark contrasts for me: moments of acute pain, suffering, and sorrow but also moments of happiness, joy, and exuberance. I could not say that the lightest moments outweigh, compensate, or obliterate the darkest ones, but, because one cannot change the past, I choose to carry only the feelings and memories of the lightest moments forward.
“Before you can have a roaring fire, you’ve got to gather a good supply of wood.” Pierre-Auguste Renoir
I love this time of year! At the first snowfall, I start preparing to stay warm and cozy inside my house but also to make the most of the splendorous winter wonderland that awaits me outdoors. Below is my list of what I love to do during my favorite season:
1. Get out all my wool toques, mittens, and scarves, the down jacket, and the snow boots with the big snow cuffs.
2. Put my flannel sheets, down comforter, and wool mattress topper on my bed,
3. Walk through the woods and try to spot a hare or Snowy owl. Listen for the bird calls of a Blue Jay, Cardinal or Bohemian waxwing.
4. At sunset, as the temperature is dropping the fastest and the wind has fallen, listen to the rare crinkling sound of the ice crystals forming on a pond or gentle stream.
5. Before dinner, light a fire in the hearth. The sounds of the damper cranking open, match striking, and wood crackling – magical. The woodsmoke settles briefly in my hair and transports me to seasons past.
6. Change the recipes from the cool meals of summer to the warm, comfort meals of winter; stews, soups, and hot meat pies.
7. Round up my Christmas baking supplies: cookie cutters, plum pudding molds, mince tart tins, and best of all, my mother and grandmothers’ special recipes and ingredients.
8. Listen to the muffled sounds of the city when the snow falls, delight in watching the snowflakes dance as they descend from on high and feel them touch my face, make a snow angel, and jump off a snowbank.
9. Get my skates sharpened, check my snowshoe strings, and find the wax for my cross-country skiis.
10. Cozy up in front of the fire after dinner with a warm blanket, hot chocolate or apple cider, and significant other… or a romantic novel.
In addition, check out the beautiful YouTube channel featuring many winter videos from Jonna Jinton in Sweden.
Help Hoe Hay Harvest for Victory. Much like the Soldiers of the Soil in WWI, “The Farm Commando Brigade of the Ontario Farm Service Force is composed of all those men and women who offer their services to those engaged in producing and processing food (farmers and canners). The work they offer to do starts from early spring seeding (tractor, force drawn or hand sown) through hoeing, haying, harvesting, canning, threshing, silo filing, etc.”
During WWII my father was too young to enlist so he joined the Farm Commando Brigade of the Ontario Farm Service Force and worked on a farm in southern Ontario, Canada. He was born and raised in the city of Toronto, but he really came of age on the farm. The lessons he learned about farmers, large animals, raising crops from the soil, and the farming community stayed with him his entire life. More importantly, he learned about hard, physical labor – the value of honest toil – and he passed these on to his children. I carry these with me today, long after his service on the farm ended.
It must have been moonglow, way up in the blue It must have been moonglow that led me straight to you I still hear you sayin’, “Dear one, hold me fast” And I keep on prayin’, “Oh Lord, please let this last” We seemed to float right through the air Heavenly songs seemed to come from everywhere And now when there’s moonglow, way up in the blue I’ll always remember, that moonglow gave me you Moonglow also Diana Krall
The moonglow crept into my room last night. It beckoned me to the window to make a wish on that magnificent orb in the night sky. I thought of you.
Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.
Over the last several years I have taken many online and in-person art and craft classes. Instructors routinely have provided students with a list of materials needed for each class. At first I thought it was necessary to buy everything on the list, but unfortunately, practically every instructor had a different set of material preferences so the cost of the more expensive supplies became prohibitive. I finally decided to start making do with what I had. One of my favorite mop brushes came from the town of Saluda, South Carolina. I was walking along the side of a dirt road when I noticed a very large, and thankfully dead, rattlesnake in my path. Oddly, next to the rattlesnake lay a watercolor mop brush. Although it had seen better times – the wooden handle was chipped in many places and the ferrule was dented, the bristles appeared intact. I snatched it up and quickly moved on! On closer examination, the bristles were soft and full, and it has turned out to be the best brush in my stash for doing large color washes. I have made similar but not so exciting finds at Goodwill, garage sales, and in nature. Not having all the designated workshop supplies has not been a barrier to entry for my creative pursuits. In fact, sometimes the found supplies have been the most enjoyable to use!
Blue are the people here That walk around Blue like my corvette its in and outside Blue are the words I say And what I think Blue are the feelings That live inside me I’m blue… From Blue by Eiffel 65
I came across a bin of bed linens in the attic during this year’s spring cleaning purge. In it I discovered a much-loved Ralph Lauren blue duvet cover that I had packed away long ago for a bicoastal move. I had searched and searched for it for many months, but finally gave up assuming it had been lost. Instead of replacing the duvet, I decided that the new surroundings demanded a change in color palette: from the light and dark Denim blues and Linen whites that suited the clapboard Colonial house of the northeast, to the Celadon green, Tuscan orange, and creams of my new Hacienda-style home in the southwest. Over the years, I never really embraced this new color palette, so when I found the denim duvet cover, I placed it on my bed and instantly felt as if I had gone through a portal to wonderful times gone by. Blue has always been my favorite color and I started to think about how not only had I given up the comfort and familiarity of my exterior landscape when I made the move, but how my interior landscape had changed as well.
Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings. – by Anaīs Nin
I know that our love is still alive – it just needs a careful polishing.
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed, The dear repose for limbs with travel tired; But then begins a journey in my head, To work my mind, when body’s work’s expired: For then my thoughts–from far where I abide– Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee, And keep my drooping eyelids open wide, Looking on darkness which the blind do see: Save that my soul’s imaginary sight Presents thy shadow to my sightless view, Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night, Makes black night beauteous and her old face new. Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind, For thee, and for myself, no quiet find. Sonnet XXVII by William Shakespeare
In that wonderful place between wakefulness and sleep, I think of you.
My father spent his last winter Making ice-grips for shoes
Out of strips of inner tube and scrap metal. (A device which slips over the instep
And holds under the shoe A section of roughened metal, it allows you to walk
Without fear of falling Anywhere on the ice or snow.) My father
should not have been doing All that close work
In the drafty workshop, but as though he sensed travel at the edge of his mind,
He would not be stopped… from “Ice” by Mary Oliver
Our ice calipers were fashioned in rubber with metal studs and they, too, allowed my father and I to travel when the exterior world was covered in ice – like a thick plexiglass covering that offered a view to what was beneath, but no warmth.