This last week has presented me with a complementary blend of experiences in coming up to Christmas which I have very much enjoyed, so I thought I’d kind of celebrate them in this post, and I hope you have a few choice moments of your own to reflect upon.
One of my favourite carols is ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, adapted from a poem by Christina Rossetti. I love the melody and especially relish the words of the first verse :
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
And when I went for a deliciously alone walk earlier this week, without another soul in sight in the fields around where I live in the Scottish Borders, every blade of newly-seeded, alive with green, growth was diamond dusted with glittering frosting and the bare ploughed and gouged earth was as hard as iron when walking on its ribbed surface. Ice filled the tractor tracks and sealed the tops of drinking troughs with stone-lidded slabs. We’ve had no snow here to disrupt our flow, the last time that happened does indeed seem long ago, but there again, as we say here, as many do in winter – you just never know…
Scenes from the day:
And in yesteryear in the Borders to give you a seasonal flavour:
Next up was having lunch with a good friend where we sat by a panoramic picture window in a suitably and beautifully festive ambience with wreathed and baubled light fittings suspended above our heads, overlooking a large pond on which swans and ducks were strutting their stuff – strutting rather than paddling because of wedges of ice still shifting on the surface from our recent cold snap. When we strolled over later on to have a look, both snow-white swans and mallards were comically slip-sliding away with their webbed feet, just as ill suited to walking on ice as we are with our toed feet. But a few plucky ducks kept themselves busy, diving down where the ice had melted away, leaving dimples in the water, to blow bubbles up to the surface, before they popped up to begin the entertainment all over again. As my friend and I parted, we had talked about art (of course!), current interests and plans for the new year, and lots of observations and feelings about our lives in general. We’re getting into the habit of this at this time of year, like a pre-Christmas ritual. And this time we had the same aim to get back into some serious painting as soon as possible, because the blank white of the canvas, just like virgin snow, is awaiting our impressions and the longer we leave it the worse the tension will get. But it’s all okay, because by now we both know that’s exactly how the creative process works. So largely undaunted, we left the ducks and swans to their business trying to skate on ice and went about ours.
Then finally the day of the Christmas choir concert arrived. Now sometimes this is an uncertain affair due to the numbers of attending choir members, arriving to ‘strut there stuff’ on the stage, escalating in proportion to space allowances planned beforehand, causing frustrations and irritations – with the usual reluctance to make a fuss, while seething within.
So to get into a mood of equanimity as insurance against inevitable disturbances to come, I spent the afternoon beforehand sorting out the minimal decorations here at home, namely a twig tree with white lights decorated with shiny baubles, having done the ‘perfect’ Christmas tree and the mantelpiece dressing thing for many years now. Bertie the snowman toy came out of hiding to monitor things in the kitchen once again, and the Christmas wreath was nailed back on the front door in exactly the same hole, where it seems to be already confusing the sparrows with it’s dwindling supply of artificial berries, as they’re ripping them off, realising the betrayal, then scattering them like inferior quality seeds on the outside mat in disgust. But hey, they’ll be okay, the bird feeders are full.
The tactic of festively orientated pursuits to get in the Xmas mood must have worked though, because the choir experience was magical. Yes, the placements in the rows went awry, but in order to be more consciously giving when my irritation peaked, I conceded defeat, remembering to employ some therapeutic acceptance. And thus I found myself on the fringe of the gathering at the back, not on the ‘risers’ in a prime position, as naturally tends to be desired so the audience can see their loved ones singing, but instead well out of the core of the choral display. But I discovered there were actually some fringe benefits. I could hold my folder of music wide and open before me, rather than it being cramped at an angle through being shoulder to shoulder with my fellows like a row of sardines in a can. I could relax, enjoy, and get some spine tingling chills in response to us working together to make the best sound we could in this community choir. And that’s the key word – community – a gathering of people sharing a love of music and singing. Happy to be together and showing our love. My eighty year old me was a happy girl!
Wishing you the kind of Christmas you enjoy the most, here’s a Xmas card for you with a wreath that the sparrows haven’t been nibbling at.
And once again, thank you for your support of this blog, I really do appreciate it. I’ll be back in January, so here’s also wishing you a happy and creatively productive New Year!
(all pics by Lynne)