Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Monday, January 16, 2017

Cold by the Door

It's icy cold by the door and beyond the still darkened windows. The north wind howls in our eavestroughs, and clouds of snow blow up the street, illuminated by the still shining street lamps. This morning's aches, nausea and fatigue are to be expected from time to time when one is tripping lightly from chemo session to chemo session in the depths of winter.

There is a cauldron of Tuscan bean soup coming together nicely on the stove, a blue bowl of clove studded (and probably very fragrant) clementines on the table nearby, a steaming mug of tea in hand and Mozart (The Magic Flute) on the sound system.  I can't smell the soup, the clementines or the cloves, but my imagination fills in the gaps, and the colors are lovely. Soon, there will be sunlight coming through the kitchen window.

As I tottered around the house a few days ago, shivering and draped in every warm shawl I own, a friend appeared on the threshold with two excellent books to engage these shivery hours indoors. I am blessed indeed.Thank you, Jane!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World


To hope is to gamble.  It's to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty are better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk. I say all this to you because hope is not like a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. I say this because hope is an ax you break down doors with in an emergency; because hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal. Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope.
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Wolf Moon of January

For all its lambent lustre and pearly radiance, January's moon arrives in a time of deep cold, snow and hunger in wild places.  Not long ago, we perched here and photographed waves of departing geese against a rising autumn moon, and here we were again recently. The great birds were long gone of course, but their parting songs were a faint echo on the wind.

January's moon is the coldest of the calendar year. We stoke fireplaces and wood stoves and huddle by our hearths on long winter nights, brew endless pots of tea and countless cauldrons of soup, count sticks of firewood and kindling.  We wrap ourselves up and take toboggan loads of nosh into the forest for the hungry and ever hopeful birds, the deer. On wild jaunts, we look about for the first signs that daylight hours are stretching out again, measure the incline, intensity and sharpness of the deep blue shadows falling across our trail as we crunch along. The north wind holds dominion over the Lanark hills, and it cuts like a knife. During the last winter Olympics, an ad supporting the Canadian team proclaimed: "We are Winter” (“Nous sommes l'hiver”), and truer words were never spoken. Winter is something we do up here, and we do it very, very well.

On clear winter nights, timber wolves in Lanark raise their voices in song, and coyote clans on the other side of the Two Hundred Wood sing a magnificent harmony, the two choruses performing a descant that rises and falls in waves across the inky snow and travels for miles - it's almost Gregorian, a Kyrie eleison so gorgeous it gives us goosebumps and leaves us breathless every single time we hear it.

In only three or four weeks, great horned owls will be nesting in our woods again, and a few weeks after that, the maple syrup season will (hopefully) be starting in the highlands. Of such small and hopeful notions, our winter days are made.

We also know this January moon as the: After Yule Moon, Big Cold Moon, Buckeyes Ripe Moon, Carnation Moon, Center Moon, Ceremonial Initiate Moon, Cold Moon, Cooking Moon, Turning Moon, Earth Renewal Moon, First Moon, Frost in the Tepee Moon, Frozen Ground Moon, Great Moon, Great Spirit Moon, Greetings Maker Moon, Her Cold Moon, Hibiscus Moon, Holiday Moon, Ice Moon, Lakes Frozen Moon, Little Winter Moon, Long Moon, Man Moon, Midwinter Moon, Moon After Yule, Moon of the Bear, Moon of the Child, Moon of Darkness, Moon of Flying Ants, Moon of Life at It's Height, Moon of Strong Cold, Moon of Whirling Snow, Moon When Animals Lose Their Fat, Moon When Limbs of Trees Are Broken by Snow, Moon When Snow Drifts into Tipis, Moon When the Snow Blows like Spirits in the Wind, Moon When the Sun Has Traveled South, Moon When the Old Fellow Spreads the Brush , Moon When Wolves Run Together, Ninene Moon, No Snow in Trails Moon, Old Moon, Pine Moon, Plum Blossom Moon, Quiet Moon, Rivros Moon, Rowan Moon, Severe Moon, Snow Moon, Snow Thaws Moon, Snowdrop Moon, Snowy Path Moon, Strong Cold Moon, Sun Has Not Strength to Thaw Moon, Thumb Moon, Trail Squint Moon, Two Trails Moon, Weight Loss Moon, Whirling Wind Moon, White Waking Moon, Winter Moon, Winter's Younger Brother Moon

Always an admirer of wolves, I like the name "Wolf Moon", but I am also fond of "Great Spirit Moon" and "Earth Renewal Moon".

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thursday Poem - Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ice and Sky and Temple Bells

There have been times in the last few days when pain and fever levels were utterly ridiculous, but I am still home and feeling cheerful again.  The icy trees in the garden look as though they belong in the Long Winter of C.S. Lewis's Narnia novels, and the windchimes outside the kitchen window look fetching as they sway back and forth against a background of icicles.

Apparently it is going to take several days to bounce back from the recent health and hospital doings, but my medical team worked their magic, and I am on my way.  I will simply have to cultivate trust, do as I am told and wait to feel better (could do without another episode like this last one though). I still have no interest in food, and my morning latte tastes peculiar so I just hold the cuppa (er mugga), inhale its fragrance and remember how it used to taste.

A dear friend once mused that there are times in life when all one can do is hang on to the grass to keep from falling off, out of life and sanity altogether.  In this case, we will have to substitute snow for grass - there is so much snow around here that it may be June before we see grass again.

Thank so much for your kind thoughts and notes and healing energies.They held me up and kept me going, and they are treasured. I cherish every single word.