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
Our daughter has been so good all year that St. Nicholas found her even at her new address in this tiny hillside village. And brought a treat from our favorite bakery too.
We didn’t bring to France our ceramic Advent ring (made by wonderful potter Heide Billenstein) so I assembled a makeshift wreath.
Thanksgiving is a big event in the United States, but in the rural Dordogne it’s an off-season quiet Thursday night. The three of us were the only patrons on a Thursday evening, off-season, at La Savie. It’s run by a young couple who gave up their city lives to renovate an old farm and give it new life housing both a growing family and a lovely restaurant with a fresh bright imaginative décor and menu. We celebrated quietly and far from home, but with much gratitude for our present temporary one.