The Solstice is but days away. A deep cold prevails in our small village alternating with wet downpours of welcomed winter rain. At times it seems as if the old California we remembered is back. The valley is filled with a thick blanket of tule fog in the sunrise hours. Winter is here.
Roofs are covered with sparkling frost, which during the sunrise give off steamy plumes of evaporation mixing with the aromatic smell of pine scented smoke rising from neighborhood fireplaces. Our little fireplace burns natural gas and is perfect for warm assembly, hot cider with a dash of Jack Daniels and Christmas music by Chanticleer.
The holiday mood must encourage good will despite the sad advent of current political disasters, which rend the heart and destroys peace of mind, but does not poison the generosity of most good folks. This time of year coincides with the manifestation of a certain holy baby only weeks away from being born in a straw manger with assorted beatific angels, gentle animals, and three traveling 1%’ers, who came bearing aromatic perfumes and trinkets from Tiffany’s, or so say the abundance gospels of Mega Churches.
One year Trace decided to do a Corn Nativity to symbolize a more simple and organic application of the divine, thus avoiding sectarian iconic controversies of the patriarchal sort. Our corn Mary conceived and birthed in application of Gaia’s 100% organic grace, by cross pollination, a flawless baby kernel.
The Nativity always brings me to the tale ( true) of a Vermont friend, ( you know who you are John), who, when in high school, kidnapped the BJ from the town’s manger and held Him for ransom. I don’t remember the ransom, but think it included cancelling a few parking tickets. Something about this so American anarchy has always thrilled me.
Lamb says, “Whaaaa?”
One of the more pleasant aspects of this rural village is that prosperity is discreet and humble as a matter of sensibility if not taste. Therefor those of us confined to genteel poverty thanks to the miserly generosity of Social Security feel right at home. There are exceptions and those are mostly confined to the estates of arriviste CEO’s in retirement, who buy hobby vineyards at extraordinary expense and assume aspirations to the lives of English gentry. Often, the sons and daughters of these newbies find meaningful work exercising their newly minted MBA’s from Davis, Harvard or Yale, and build sumptuous villas worthy of Medici Cardinals. Fortunately, discreet landscaping and security gates hide these monstrosities from immediate view. You can always tell they lie near though, because the rural County drainage ditches fronting them are planted with native, organic California wildflowers.
Others, with more East Coast sensibilities, remember the spartan paradigm farms of Sharon or Litchfield Connecticut, apply Steiner agricultural and lunar phase techniques, and go that route, more casually blending in to our local agricultural elan. Often these mighty immigrant folks from the comfortable classes truck in designers from SF or LA to ‘decorate’ for the holidays. Our lot however settles for bright colorful lights strung along gables , garages and fences. No one does blowup Santa’s, reindeer’s, elves, or other pagan freaks in thrall to Black Friday and commercialism. Our cottage does a slightly different take on the holiday/holy day.
I make a Christmas Angel every year on the garden fence facing the street and it seems to please neighbors, who often comment on it and look forward to its yearly changing forms. Trace once remarked that at first it looked a bit like Mothra.
I’ll leave it to you gentle readers to determine in this case if Mothra is really an angel in disguise.
There is a history of this decoration centered in our years living in Vermont. We would save garden flowers, herbs, and other interesting flora and hang them in the drying-room until the holidays. Also, we ventured into the woods to collect red and orange Winter Berry vines . When brought indoors they give off a fragrance much like vanilla. We made large swags of all the above to decorate the kitchen side porch of the farm house.
Christmas is the main celebration here in ruralville. It’s very quiet in the cottage this time of year because great loss has created a sweet atmosphere of gratitude for the beauty of essential, simple things, dear friends, kind neighbors, and little dogs. Andie and I were thrilled when Sara Santa sent a huge box of Omaha treats. Recently my doctor said I was deficient in protein. That problem is solved with both a delicious and practical solution.
Santa did remember Andie and brought her a new knitted coat for winter wear. It looks very much like the living-room carpet, which has always reminded me of movie theater remnant carpeting—-black, with little flecks of color, like mashed Jujubes.
Santa is also considering bringing Andie a new day bed for the bedroom because she has been rather successful in making it bald by pulling out tufts of fleece:
BOSLEY says it doesn’t do Dawg Beds
Later, she surreptitiously began to pull tufts out my bed fleece, a four pelt coverlet of black New Zealand lamb wool I bought back in the days of a more grandiose security. When it was new it had a pile of six inch fluff and was incredibly warm. Nowadays, the poor old thing looks like a deflated door mat, but after thirty years of daily and loving usage I can’t seem to discard it, like those funky T-shirts some men just can’t part with. Now, it experiences Andie’s quiet and ninja-like depredations.
Andie and I take many walks outside on our usual route to the Methodist Church and back, It amazes me how many people stop to chat. I feel part of a community and that is a gentle blessing. These early morning walks at sunrise are enchanting, melting dew on bent grasses alongside the road glisten with rainbow colored drops in red, white and blue…so beautiful as the day brings sunlight change. Walls of red Pyracantha berries and tall stands of scarlet sage decorate with a holiday palette. When the sky is overcast the sun shines pale yellow though grey clouds and all colors below seem more vivid than usual.
I stare out the studio window with Andie by my side, wistful, remembering, feeling a little sadness in the memory of joyful times past. I embrace Andie, grateful for the moments, for the days, and for the certain knowledge that renewal and hope are practical things that gift the immediate experience.
This month people of good will celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah,and Kwanzaa, not to mention the complex of holy days, various ascensions into heaven, miraculous conceptions, National Cookie and Fritters Day and of course, the worthy days of various holy and crazed saints.
Andie and I rest our case for the holiday and celebrate.