Archive for December, 2013

Christmastide

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

A December tradition in our family is the Linn Barnes and Allison Hampton Consort Celtic Christmas concert at Dumbarton Church in Georgetown, where our Christmas season is annually launched by beautiful music for lute, harp, flute and drum, accompanied by Robert Aubry Davis’ readings. This ballad is a favorite. Merry Christmas, everyone. May joy, love and peace fill us all and “drive the cold winter away” from our hearts.

ChristmasPomeg

When Christmastide
Comes in like a Bride,
with Holly and Ivy clad:
Twelve dayes in the yeare,
Much mirth and good cheare,
in every houshold is had:
The Countrey guise,
Is then to devise,
some gambole of Christmas play:
Whereas the yong men,
Do best that they can,
to drive the cold winter away.

When white-bearded Frost,
Hath threatned his worst,
and fallen from Branch & Bryer:
Then time away cals,
From Husbandry Hals,
& from the good Countrymans fire:
Together to go,
To Plow and to sow,
to get us both food and array:
And thus with content,
The time we have spent,
to drive the cold winter away.

—English Ballad, 1625

CakeAppleAnn

CakeStrawberriesStephanie

CakeCarrotsNoah

CakeBalloons2Tony

CakeMusicNevin

Into Enchantment

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

How did our baby girl come to be FIFTEEN? Yet here she stands, strong, quick-witted, lovely, and nearly my height; by spring she’ll be taller than I.

For her birthday today I post a sketch made on a summertime bike ride. I see it now symbolically, as her gazing into her future: shining, expansive, full of promise. (I hope that doesn’t mean her parents are the two old stumps on the riverbank.) Here also is a tender poem by Mark Jarman, “Prayer for our Daughters.”

EBikingRiver 

May they never be lonely at parties
Or wait for mail from people they haven’t written
Or still in middle age ask God for favors
Or forbid their children things they were never forbidden.

May hatred be like a habit they never developed
And can’t see the point of, like gambling or heavy drinking.
If they forget themselves, may it be in music
Or the kind of prayer that makes a garden of thinking.

May they enter the coming century
Like swans under a bridge into enchantment
And take with them enough of this century
To assure their grandchildren it really happened.

May they find a place to love, without nostalgia
For some place else that they can never go back to.
And may they find themselves, as we have found them,
Complete at each stage of their lives, each part they add to.

May they be themselves, long after we’ve stopped watching.
May they return from every kind of suffering
(Except the last, which doesn’t bear repeating)
And be themselves again, both blessed and blessing.

—Mark Jarman

CakeDancer2Eileen

Solstice

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

In celebration of this shortest day, this longest night of the year, a sketch and a poem.

SolsticePartridge

Reflections On a Scottish Christmas
The dark of winter wraps around us tight.
The lamps are fired, and flickering light
beats time to the fiddle as notes float softly down, like the years’ first snow.
While outside the window a blast of late December wind
whistles harmony to the drone of the pipes.
We push the old year back against the wall
so we can dance a jig for Christmas and welcome in the new.
—Johnny Cunningham

Waiting

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Must post my annual tribute.

SeasonOfWaiting

CakeSnowmanLeah

Plymouth Rock

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

PlymouthRock

Today is the day in 1620 on which the passengers of the Mayflower came ashore at what would become Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. I had learned in elementary school about Plymouth Rock—the boulder onto which the Puritans supposedly first stepped—and assumed it was symbolic or even mythological. But on a family trip to the area some years ago I was taken aback to find along the shore an actual Rock enshrined in a mini-temple. Thus the entry that day (featuring the Standish/Alden trio) in my sketchbook. Happy Plymouth Rock Day!

Saint Lucy’s Gingerbread

Friday, December 13th, 2013

A warning to all my cookie guinea pigs! This year I set aside the traditional gingerbread cookie recipe to try a new one. I set it up last night and trudged to the kitchen before dawn (which is, admittedly, pretty late by mid-December) to finish the dough, which now must chill thoroughly before it’s cut and baked. If it’s a success, I’ll post the recipe in time for next Santa Lucia Day.

SantaLuciaCookies

Pie Love/Paris Love

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

My husband doesn’t care for cake, so every year we celebrate his birthday with an apple pie. Here is this year’s model.

He also shares his birthday with Alfred de Musset (1810-1857) and so I include a poem, along with a poor translation for which I apologize. In honor of my husband’s birthday, I tried to find a jolly poem among all the melancholy meditations on de Musset’s difficult love affair with Aurore Dupin (Georges Sand); but, failing that, I include a poem set in Paris, where my husband and I lived a happier love story than did poor Alfred. (The poem’s use of both forms of second person singular shows what we’ve lost in English when we gave one up.)

JBdayPie3788

Que j’aime le premier frisson d’hiver ! le chaume,
Sous le pied du chasseur, refusant de ployer !
Quand vient la pie aux champs que le foin vert embaume,
Au fond du vieux château s’éveille le foyer ;

C’est le temps de la ville. – Oh ! lorsque l’an dernier,
J’y revins, que je vis ce bon Louvre et son dôme,
Paris et sa fumée, et tout ce beau royaume
(J’entends encore au vent les postillons crier),

Que j’aimais ce temps gris, ces passants, et la Seine
Sous ses mille falots assise en souveraine !
J’allais revoir l’hiver. – Et toi, ma vie, et toi !

Oh ! dans tes longs regards j’allais tremper mon âme
Je saluais tes murs. – Car, qui m’eût dit, madame,
Que votre coeur sitôt avait changé pour moi ?

—Alfred de Musset

How I love the first winter chill! the stubble,
Under the foot of the hunter, refusing to bend!
When the magpie comes to the hay-scented fields,
In the depths of the old château the household awakens;

This is the time of the city. – Oh! when last year
I returned, I saw the good Louvre and its dome,
Paris and her smoke, and all this lovely realm
(I still hear in the wind the shouting postilions)

How I loved this gray time, these passersby and the Seine
Beneath its thousand lanterns seated supreme!
I would see the winter return. – And thee, my life, and thee!

Oh! in thy long looks I would drench my soul
I would salute thy walls. – For, who would have told me, madame,
That your heart had so soon changed toward me?

PieForJJimmy

CakeStrawberriesChris

St. Nicholas Day Plagiarist

Friday, December 6th, 2013

As part of my continuing obsession each December to remind the world about the discovery of the TRUE author of the beloved Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” I cannot resist once more posting a link to the story. Naughty, naughty, Clement Clarke Moore. No golden walnut for YOU.

Santa&HenryDetail

Bringing the Sun

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

For the birthday today of Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), I post this poem, and a detail of a sketch from my France 2013 sketchbook, for those already missing the swallows and the summer sun. (For the entire sketch, please see View from the Terrace.)

Fr13-CapestChTowerDetail

Fly away, fly away over the sea,
Sun-loving swallow, for summer is done;
Come again, come again, come back to me,
Bringing the summer and bringing the sun.

—Christina Rossetti

CakeChocSquaresDavid

CakeBalloons2Gideon

YCandleNelson Mandela 1918-2013

Advent 1

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

For today, the first of December and the first Sunday of Advent, a picture, and a poem by Ann Ellerton with which my daughter and I sometimes began our homeschooling day during this season.

Dec1Advent1

Now the twilight of the year
Comes, and Christmas draweth near.
See, across the Advent sky
How the clouds move quietly.
Earth is waiting, wrapped in sleep,
Waiting in a silence deep.
Birds are hid in bush and reed
Flowers are sleeping in their seed.

Through the woodland to and fro
Silent-footed creatures go.
Hedgehog curled in prickly ball
Burrows beneath the leaves that fall.
Man and beast and bird and flower
Waiting for the midnight hour
Waiting for the infant’s birth
Down from Heaven, onto Earth.

—Ann Ellerton

CakeChrysanthMelissa

CakeBalloons2Chuck