In celebration of this shortest day, this longest night of the year, a poem by May Sarton, and a chair in the National Cathedral Bishop’s Garden, painted during a snowier winter than this one looks to be.
Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.
Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
Where the wild creatures ranged
While the moon rose and shone.
Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?
How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we’ll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.
Here is a new calendar for 2015, each month featuring one of my seasonal still-lifes. I’m taking orders, but unfortunately they have to be received by Sept. 9th for me to place the order. Not much time, I’m afraid! Next year there will be more advance notice. Please contact me if you have any questions. Your calendar will reach you before the end of September. Shipping is 2-day Priority Mail, domestic US. (But if you are in my area you can get it from me directly without shipping!)
Here is a sketch of our snowy spring garden—but it’s unfortunately not enough of a snowfall to “hide wholly from view” our newly delivered city trash and recycling bins, freshly painted by my husband and son with the house number.
Let the old snow be covered with the new:
The trampled snow, so soiled, and stained, and sodden.
Let it be hidden wholly from our view
By pure white flakes, all trackless and untrodden.
When Winter dies, low at the sweet Spring’s feet
Let him be mantled in a clean, white sheet.
Let the old life be covered by the new:
The old past life so full of sad mistakes,
Let it be wholly hidden from the view
By deeds as white and silent as snow-flakes.
Ere this earth life melts in the eternal Spring
Let the white mantle of repentance fling
Soft drapery about it, fold on fold,
Even as the new snow covers up the old.
—Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Still walking in velvet shoes here…
Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace.
I shall go shod in silk,
And you in wool,
White as white cow’s milk,
Than the breast of a gull.
We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
Upon silver fleece,
Upon softer than these.
We shall walk in velvet shoes:
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.
An unfortunate conjunction of events.
A new month, and a poem for this day by Marge Piercy.
Three feet of snow in twenty-four hours
on top of seven inches. Not really
credible here. On the fourth day
we found the car under a six
foot drift and dug it out.
At first we could not open doors.
The post office shut for two days.
Our road had vanished into a field.
We felt the sky had finally
fallen and drowned us.
Six weeks: now patches of ground
emerge from white fortresses.
How beautiful is the dirt
I took for granted. Extraordinary
the wild green of grass islands.
Having the world snatched
from us makes us grateful even
for fence posts, for wheelbarrow
rising, for the stalwart spears
of daffodil uncovered.
Everything revealed is magical,
splendid in its ordinary shining.
The sun gives birth to rosebushes,
the myrtle, a snow shovel fallen,
overcome on the field of battle.
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.
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
In celebration of this shortest day, this longest night of the year, a sketch and a poem.
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.
Must post my annual tribute.