A happy sequence of events, all signifying that we are now halfway through the winter: The First of February, Groundhog Day/Candlemas, and Setsubun. This means that, although there are still heaps of snow along every sidewalk and intersection, we can celebrate with crêpes, candle-making, watching one of our favorite movies, eating sushi rolls, and tossing beans into the garden. Happy February! Wishing you much joy and no demons!
So fittingly on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we listened to many touching, fascinating, and funny reminiscences during the moving celebration of Al Bronstein. This is a man who infused all his life’s undertakings—from social justice to education to family life to fabulous cooking—with his fierce determination, courage, brilliance, humor and kindness. Thank you, Al.
For Christmas Day, a painting and a poem. Merry Christmas, everyone, as we go onward together holding hands, listening for angels.
A little girl is singing for the faithful to come ye
Joyful and triumphant, a song she loves,
And also the partridge in a pear tree
And the golden rings and the turtle doves.
In the dark streets, red lights and green and blue
Where the faithful live, some joyful, some troubled,
Enduring the cold and also the flu,
Taking the garbage out and keeping the sidewalk shoveled.
Not much triumph going on here—and yet
There is much we do not understand.
And my hopes and fears are met
In this small singer holding onto my hand.
Onward we go, faithfully, into the dark
And are there angels hovering overhead? Hark.
— Gary Johnson
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.
The lovely village of St. Cyprien-Dordogne is where we were living last Thanksgiving, celebrating quietly and far from home. This year, back in our native land, and happy and thankful for the beloved company of family and old friends, we’re also grateful for those we came to know in our adopted land and anxious about the recent attacks on this spirited, creative, humorous and resilient people. I look forward to a day (probably centuries beyond my lifetime) when we might celebrate in harmony a universal Thanksgiving in appreciation for our beautiful world and everyone in it.
Below, a poem for this day.
Not because of victories
but for the common sunshine,
the largess of the spring.
Not for victory
but for the day’s work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.
This year is the 70th anniversary. Schools and offices are closed.
When we received this gift two weeks ago, it happened to be the first day that actually smelled like spring, despite the wind rattling the shutters and the fire burning in the fireplace.
Here is a Billy Collins poem to go with the sketch (which is a detail from March 3rd’s post). Happy First Day of Spring, everyone in the Northern Hemisphere.
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.
Lynn and Donald