They're arriving daily! And I love to peruse each and every one. Some feature the latest hybrids and crosses. Others showcase favorite old heirlooms.
Some like R.H. Shumway's - one of my favorites as is their indispensable on-line garden planner - have an old-fashioned feel due to having few, if any photos, and lots of line drawings like catalogs of days gone by.
Time for me to sit by the fire, a cup of herbal tea close at hand, folding down pages depicting seeds and starts that catch my eye, tickle my imagination, arouse my curiosity...
...with poetic variety-descriptions that make me dream of warm days to come. Of Spring. Of Summer. Of scent and flavor. Dreams to warm the remaining months of Winter-into-Spring.
Here comes a new year! Like a clean piece of paper it tempts with potential.
What will I create?
What will you create?
While the new year, upcoming, is rife with creative potential, it will also bring the unexpected, the unbidden.
There will be moments of joy and times of sadness. Just like the old year, almost gone, there will be ups and downs.
Hopefully, for each of us there will be more "ups" than "downs".
I wish for all of us more blessings, more things to be grateful for, greater abundance, more simplicity, love, delight, deeper mystical moments, more fun, more sleep. More of every good thing for everyone!
This year, December 21st marks the Winter Solstice, the longest, darkest night of the year and the gradual lengthening of daylight hours as the Earth begins its annual trek closer to the Sun.
The ancients of every land across the face of the Earth were aware of this transitional time and marked with stone monuments the waxing and waning of day length - the Winter and Summer solstices. These were times of ritual and celebration.
* * * *
Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him.
...and, low, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother and fell down, and worshipped him; and when they had opened their treasure, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
The Cottage plays with and translates light in a most wonderful way!
Light gleams on old wooden floors and rainbows dance through century-old beveled glass. Hours and moments of daylight wax and wane. A seasonal Soul-feast of illumination. An evanescent dance of dark and day, dusk and dawn - the daily flux and flow of light through the Cottage's windows.
I arise before dawn and with a cozy cup of tea wait for that first hint of light that heralds the new day.
At days' end - eventide - again I sit and await the quiet spectacle as brightness and color retreats, then flairs briefly in reds and golds for a few precious moments of twilight. Suddenly, comes the gloaming - that "Phantasial" approach of night chasing light from my rooms as darkness gathers first in corners, then cloaks each room entirely. Completely.
Separate, yet woven tenuously together as warp and weft in a fabric spun of daylight and nighttime designs, is this surge and retreat of light in which artists and photographers exalt. They, as does my own mind's eye strive, to capture, to distill, that which will always speak to the Soul in a Divine language only the heart may hear.
The eye lingers upon the changing subtlety - a glimpse. A glimmer. Now glowing, growing. Then fading and finally failing, falling into velvet night.
Listen! Yes, listen to light. You can you know...if you harken carefully, and most delicately with the inner ear of your Soul...you can experience this quality, and more, of the many facets of pure light!
Winter's Sun, pale like a pewter mirror, reflects into the Cottage, obliquely, its wan, cool snow-light. An illumination that entering in is warmed by color, fire- and candlelight and transformed within each room it visits.
Springtime's glow enters through windows upon rays tinted by the varied greens of new leaves unfolding above tulip and daffodil-petaled gardens.
Summer's brilliance, is confident and bright - almost searing - magnified by the Season's long hours and Earth's closer tilt and orbit nearer our bright solar star.
And, Autumn's quiet luminance blesses the Cottage all warm and golden carrying within its emanation, a flight over gilded fields and passage through yellowed leaves kissed by early frosts. Breathed in, it bubbles, effervesces, like the tickle of cool champagne upon an eager, thirsty tongue!
Light, kissed by golden fields!
Shadows play. A benediction of light moving over walls and floor. The Cottage magnifies some aspects of light while softening, rounding out shadows as day ebbs into night.
Some buildings smother light, sitting hunched, shouldered against its entry.
The Cottage enchants, soothes, and seduces with light. Is it the number or shape of the windows? The Cottage's orientation upon the land?
It does seem as though whoever built the Cottage (Jens Peter Christensen, I've been told in 1895 or 1902) situated it to gather Winter sun to warm and illuminate sitting room and bedroom on the ground floor. In Summer, these two areas see diminished sunlight through the windows as if to keep cool these rooms.
So, now I sit and watch through the front Cottage window as long shadows creep and consume this small valley while still-illumined mountain heights hold, yet, the rosy hues of twilight, and night creeps out from the corners of this room barely touched by the parlor stove's shimmering firelight.
The fruit (rose hips) of this apothocary rose in the kitchen garden make a pleasant-tasting, warming tea.
Running low on Autumn-gathered rose hips, I ventured into the garden today to gather some more for tea. It was easy as most of the leaves had fallen from the rose.
I gathered until the tips of my fingers - in spite of my heavy gloves - were numb.
Some of the "fruit" of my labors.
I filled the bottom of this bucket.
The hips will dry for a week or so on this waxpaper-covered cookie sheet. Then they'll be ready to use for tea.
To make rose hip tea, steep 2-1/2 teaspoons of whole hips in eight to ten ounces of hot water for 20 minutes. I like to add a tablespoon of oatstraw to steep with the hips. I sweeten with four drops of liquid stevia or a half teaspoon of honey or agave syrup. A splash of almond milk is nice, too.
The resulting tea is rich in Vitamin C, calcium, and is soothing and tasty.
If you’ve lost someone there are certain times of the year that are most difficult.
Anniversaries, birthdays, and yes, Christmas - when the pangs of grief and separation are hardest to bear - are some of those times.
There is little that will comfort and dry the tears when memories of the beloved arise sharply and poignantly. But comfort is possible, if perhaps only in small degrees.
You may ask yourself how you’re supposed to “do” Christmas when your heart lies heavy and tears threaten to fall. How? How indeed?
If you’re spending the Holidays alone you have the luxury of “not doing” and simply embracing the peace, the quiet, the memories and taking to your bed.
If, however, others are depending upon your participation in their Holidays, or you have children and therefore the responsibility of making as merry a Christmas as possible for them, then rousing yourself will be a labor. But it will be a labor of love and caring and therefore achievable, albeit not easy.
Sadly, oh so sadly, we cannot bring back those we love from beyond the veil. However, we can remember them and remember them well. We can share their memories among the still-living in a loving and supportive environment.
So, gather together with those who knew your beloved and share those memories. There will be many good times to recall, and each will have their own memories from a different perspective that will warm your heart.
And, participate in those treasured family traditions honoring Light and Love at this time of year. You’ll find healing in sharing in familiar, time-honored traditions and rituals of comfort and joy.
In the midst of those gathered together in this Season of Rebirth you’ll find comfort and love. And yes, wholeness too, in the familiar patterns weaving through celebrations that symbolize something greater than the self. Embrace the “Spirit” and promise that is this month’s message and meaning.
And, while your Holiday may not be as merry and bright as in past years, may you have a warm and Blessed Christmas this year and each year to come.