Tag Archives: cold

Christmastime River

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The days surrounding and including Christmas Day have been full and flowing with love and friendship and good times. It feels like a river in which I am dreamily floating along, but somehow not up to speed, not able to live up to my expectations for myself or participate in all the activities planned by others that I’d like to. For example:

Cookies: I bought almond paste, but didn’t bake any cookies. Instead, I’ve been nibbling away at one log of paste, and thinking of making stöllen with the other package. Pearl and Joy brought plenty of cookies, so no one was lacking in that department.

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Scout gave me nut brittle and chocolate-dipped pretzels he had made, for when the cookies run out.

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Christmas Dinner: I marinated my becoming-traditional leg of lamb for Christmas dinner, with rosemary and wine and garlic. Then on Christmas Day I overcooked it!

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It was a great feast that day, with lots of vegetables: roasted butternut squash from my garden, sautéed mushrooms and sweet red peppers, creamed spinach — plus tamales! I guess we were trying to keep track of too many courses at once. Most people loved the lamb anyway, and I will make lentil soup out of the leftovers.

We ate at the big table using all of its leaves, covered with a new green tablecloth I got on Freecycle, and a new table runner that carried the theme of my evergreen tree with its birds.

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Jamie’s mountain goat

Decorating: I’m tired of some of my decorations; I’d like to get some good quality faux greenery to hang on the railings in the future. This year I hung tiny LED lights on the manzanita branch and they were pretty, but a real chore to manage; I think I’ll just take them down now that the first batteries wore down, and be low-tech with my branch in the future. This year I didn’t put any lights around the kitchen window, so I’ll have to get in touch with other sources of winter cheer.

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Caroling: Sixteen of us were here for our usual Christmas Eve festivities, mostly squeezed into about six hours during which families arrived from other towns, unloaded their cars full of children, food and gifts, and for some, sleeping gear; prepared and ate dinner; arranged ourselves and our presents around the living room and took turns opening gifts in a civilized and grateful manner; re-grouped to eat cookies and eggnog and put some children to bed; departed to our rooms or other houses and towns very late…

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That wasn’t enough time to sing carols, which was a disappointment to many of us, but with the little children’s needs… Just now thinking that perhaps I could plan an easier meal somehow next Christmas Eve, so that we could sing carols before dinner?

The day after Christmas “we” did make giant snowflakes, with instructions from Kit. And we did read Christmas stories, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. So it was different, but very nice.  Some of us took a walk on Christmas Day, and others a longer hike the next. Soldier made more finishing touches on my greenhouse and the playhouse, and I began to clean the patio. I held Jamie a lot and he fell asleep on my chest as we sat by the fire.

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Scout loved the collection of rocks he was given.
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Swiss chard in the front lawn this morning
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Maggie gave Jack some treats for Christmas.

Cleaning: This is the second year in a row that I didn’t get around to dusting the living room furniture before the festivities! On Christmas morning when I was alone downstairs I noticed the dust on the piano… I’m lucky to be in a family where probably no one noticed things like that, especially with the humans and torn-up wrapping paper filling the space and all over the piano and other furniture… gl P1030228

 

 

 

It’s been cold, but that didn’t prevent Scout and Ivy from playing in the fountain from which the ice had only recently melted. One night an action figure got frozen in up to his waist — he was the same guy whom I’d seen underwater in the tarps that covered the planting boxes until last week.

I’ve spent a lot of effort morning and evening the last few days covering the lemon tree, melting ice in the fountain, and going out before sunup to survey the estate.

Only concern for my fountain could get me to do that! I was rewarded by seeing the various plants with their frosty crystals. The Iceland poppy shrivels to a bright crisp when it’s 27°, but by midday it relaxes as the thermometer rises, and sways gracefully again.

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Tonight may be the last of the freezing temps for a while; I will go out soon and turn on the fountain to run through the coldest hours in hopes of keeping the water in the pipes from freezing completely.

In this new week we are looking forward to our parish feast day, and to Theophany. It’s good to be carried along on that river, the flow of the church calendar that keeps me centered on my life in Christ. I am thankful this Christmas, for Him and for all His gifts.

Clouds fall like feathers.

The whole nation has been colder than usual, I hear. I’m glad to live where it doesn’t normally snow, as I feel too old to deal with the work it requires. Still, I have experienced some snowfalls from time to time in my life and I appreciate the imagery in this poem.

White-Eyes

In winter
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
but he’s restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.

So, it’s over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he’s done all he can.

I don’t know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—

which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
into snow.

–Mary Oliver

Source: Poetry (October 2002), and the Poetry Foundation’s collection of Winter Poems.

 

We were made to be warmed and fed.

Romanós writes in his blog today about the Holy Trinity and the way the church fathers found instruction about God in the sun. Especially in the last week I appreciate this picture, because we haven’t yet shut the windows of our house against the coming winter, and it doesn’t warm up in here anymore. Until such time as we start building fires, I find myself going outdoors just to stand in the sunshine. Below are some snatches from the post.

The Orthodox fathers use the sun as an analogy to the Holy and Divine Triad. The sun itself is the Heavenly Father. The light of the sun is the Divine Word and Son of God. The heat of the sun is the Holy Spirit.
No one can see the sun, except by the light, which enters our eyes and shows it to us. We have no other way to be in contact with the sun or even know for sure that it is there, but for the light (and the heat). If you approached the sun to touch it, you would be incinerated long before you reached it. The Father, thus, is ever intangible and unreachable to us, in His essence.

This analogy also teaches about the relationship of the three Persons of the Trinity, which in its order lines up with the original Nicene Creed, not the altered western version. Romanos goes on to dwell on the primary aspect of this God on Whom we depend with our every fiber: Love. There is no coldness in Heaven; when we are truly with Him He is a radiant Fire that fills our entire being, and we sit as at a banquet.

There can be no love except ‘between’ and no pure love, impartial and selfless love, except between ‘three.’ Hence, the Divine Nature says, ‘Let us make man in Our image.’

….we take our places at the banquet of the Divine Nature, becoming by genuine adoption what Christ is by nature, sons and daughters of the Most-High.

See the Orthodox ikon of the Holy Trinity, the original written by Andrei Rublev, posted above. There you will see the three ‘angels’ seated around a table, with one place left open for another.

That one is you.

Read the whole post here.

Cold Snap Gardening


As I was about to stick a gazania into its hole next to the church parking lot, I got a call on my cell from my husband, telling me the weather forecast: it’s supposed to snow down to 3500′ tonight. I immediately thought of Pippin, who is weary of the cold, and wondered if she is getting snow tonight.


I was a bit chilly myself, but at least I had gone back in the house to put on more layers before driving off with my garden tool kit, because there was no sunshine or warmth. And it didn’t ever get up to 60° today.

The north wind was blowing, but the filtered light was perfect for taking pictures of all the flowers there at church — if my shutter could keep up with the fluttering of blossoms.

Look! A hose is lying around even at church; someone was washing her car nearby.

There are several people who do yard work on the property, but I pretty much take care of the containers. Several times a year everything I’ve planted seems to look good together, but often things are a bit ragged or odd.

Today I added some snapdragons so that when the poppies and pansies expire from heat, perhaps the snaps will be making a show. I planted a lovely pink geranium in an empty clay pot.

I haven’t had much to do with this rose display lately, but we all are currently raving over the giant apricot irises.

My favorite cistus

At least the cool weather makes the Iceland poppies happy. I found out that the small orange-flowered perennial on the right is helianthemum, and from searching around on the Net I think this one is called Chocolate Blotch.

I know there was noise of traffic on the street, but it was a long time before that entered my consciousness. I heard mourning doves as I was wiggling clover roots out from the bed of ajuga. The neighbors seem to have a new bird, which I couldn’t see, but it cried like an angry peacock. Bird calls impress on my brain more easily on cloudy days.

Three hours is about my limit for at stint at church, weeding, planting, trimming, feeding, and carrying buckets of garden waste to the compost heap. All the bending and stooping must be worth a few pilates sessions; I recover by walking across the property to the next half barrel or perennial bed.

But this afternoon when I pulled into my own driveway and saw all the weeds in the cracks, I couldn’t bear to go into the house until I had hacked away at them for a while. Now I’m hoping to rest up and stretch out enough to have stamina for Vigil this evening.
I checked the weather, and it looks like Pippin will likely be having “snow showers.” That girl needs a greenhouse. But here, of course, we are not that high, or cold. So I can say, bring on the thunderstorms!