Thick Was the Snow

February 7, 2017

Snow-frosted branches

Snow-frosted branches

“Thick was the snow on field and hedge
And vanished was the river-sedge,
Where winter skilfully had wound
A shining scarf without a sound.”
— Charles Causley, “At Nine of the Night I Opened My Door”

“Snow
falls on snow —
silence.
— Santaka

The snow was beautiful while it lasted.  A brief taste of “real” winter here in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

img_1428

img_1430

img_1445

img_1460

img_1468

img_1466

img_1469

img_1471

 

Laboring Like the Snow

February 6, 2017

Snow day.  Bring out the sleds!

Snow day. Bring out the sleds!

Like Snow

by Wendell Berry

Suppose we did our work
like the snow, quietly, quietly,
leaving nothing out.

I appreciate Wendell Berry’s sentiment, but snow makes me want to play!  I am not the only one.  Snow is rare in Seattle, and even a light covering of white on the sloping lawn around Green Lake was enough for sledding fun.

Snow day at Green lake

Snow day at Green lake

img_1436

img_1451

img_1450

img_1459

 

Snow Day! A Gift of Time

February 6, 2017

“I love that snow is mineral, falling as billions of temporary stars.”
— Diane Ackerman, Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day

Weeping poplar, snowy landscape

Weeping poplar, snowy landscape

“”They seem tentative and awkward at first, then in a hastening host a whole brief army falls, white militia paratrooping out of the close sky over various textures, making them one.”
— Donald Hall, Seasons at Eagle Pond

My neighborhood this morning

My neighborhood this morning

Today I woke to a snow-covered world, and when I checked the inclement weather hotline I heard that the city’s branch libraries were closed today and I didn’t have to go to work. Yippee!  A snow day!  A whole day of unscheduled time.  What a gift!

I donned boots and took a morning walk around Green Lake.  So pretty.

Path at Green Lake

Path at Green Lake

Dawn Redwood at lake's edge

Dawn Redwood at lake’s edge

I loved the pattern of the black branches laden with white frosting

I loved the pattern of the black branches laden with white frosting

img_1452

Witch hazel

Witch hazel

img_1467

Cedars

Cedars

img_0876

December 25th was designated the day for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ by Pope Julius I in the mid-300s.  Since Christmas is a birthday, I thought I’d share with you a beautiful birthday story I read recently in Krista Tippett’s book, Becoming Wise:  An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living.

The book summarizes the lessons Tippett learned from the wise men and women she has interviewed over the years for her program On Being.  It is perhaps fitting that the birthday story related here has Jewish roots.  It was told by Rachel Naomi Remen, a physician, who was given the story on her fourth birthday by her rabbi grandfather.  I am copying it here:

 

The Birthday of the World

“In the beginning there was only holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life.  In the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light.  And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke.  The wholeness of the world, the light of the world, was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light.  And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.

Now, according to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident.  We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world.  It’s a very important story for our times.  This task is called tikkum olan in Hebrew.  It’s the restoration of the world.

And this is, of course, a collective task.  It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently alive, all people yet to be born.  We are all healers of the world.  That story opens a sense of possibility.  It’s not about healing the world by making a huge difference.  It’s about healing the world the touches you, that’s around you.”

 

So here’s the wise lesson:  Be the light you want to see in the world.  It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but do even one thing.

Merry Christmas!

My Christmas-season place mats

My Christmas-season place mats

Now that I’ve no little children in the house, I’ve severely edited my Christmas decorating and obligations.  Still I do cherish and enjoy the few Christmas-y moments I’ve sought out this year, starting with having my red and green log cabin quilted place mats handy for our dining room table this month.  I’ve already written about my single string of outdoor lights over our front door, my makeshift garden trellis tree, my snowflake tree, driving to Bothell to see the Christmas lights at Evergreen Church, and painting a few Christmas cards.  In recent weeks I’ve also enjoyed a Christmas play at the Taproot Theatre and listening to Brad Craft, bookseller, reading aloud Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” at the University Bookstore.

img_0990

Still to be enjoyed is a new Christmas book, Family Christmas Treasures, an anthology of stories about Christmas excerpted from literature and color plates of art celebrating Christmas.  I like that there are new-to-me stories, like “The Montreal Aunts” by Maureen Hull as well as some lovely art that I had not seen before.  For example, I really like these two Christmas prints by Andy Warhol:

Poinsettias by Andy Warhol, 1982

Poinsettias by Andy Warhol, 1982

Untitled (Fairy and Christmas Ornaments) by Andy Warhol, 1953 - 1955

Untitled (Fairy and Christmas Ornaments) by Andy Warhol, 1953 – 1955

They inspired me to paint some of my own Christmas ornaments:

Christmas ornaments

Christmas ornaments

 

 

Handmade Christmas Cards

December 19, 2016

Painted Christmas card, and ornament tree

Painted Christmas card, an ornament tree

I am getting fewer Christmas cards with each passing year, probably a reflection of my giving fewer cards as well.  Still, one of life’s joys is finding personal letters in the mailbox.  So in my limited way, I’ve tried to spread some joy by painting and sending off a handful of Christmas cards to my family and a few friends.  The rest of you will have to find comfort and joy via these images over the internet.  My digital good wishes are no less heartfelt!

Evergreen forest

Evergreen forest

Merry and Bright

Merry and Bright

Decorated Christmas tree

Decorated Christmas tree

Ornament tree

Ornament tree

Snowman ingredients

Snowman ingredients

Holly tree

Holly tree

 

 

Islands of Warmth

December 5, 2016

Last month's full moon

Last month’s full moon

“The cold has the philosophical value of reminding men that the universe does not love us. Cold as absolute as the black tomb rules space; sunshine is a local condition, and the moon hangs in the sky to illustrate that matter is usually inanimate. . . . To return back indoors after exposure to the bitter, inimical, implacable cold is to experience gratitude for the shelters of civilization, for the islands of warmth that life creates.”
— John Updike, “The Cold”

I am getting tired of the dark, the gloom, the clouds, the cold, the dampness, the rain.  I dream of warm sun on my skin.  That local condition is months away.  In the meantime, I will try to be grateful for central heating, electric lights, polar fleece, and mittens!