Category Archives: winter

between winter and spring

 

I had so many messages about  my last post on the “empty nest” – just says how we, as mothers/parents, all feel so deeply and universally  about our children; we all feel the  heart tug of letting go. I did these funny angels to remember these times…

 

 

It’s the end of the day, the end of carnival season, and Valentine’s Day is soon. I lit a candle in the kitchen; one Elizabeth got for Christmas, and made some hot tea. I want to write a few words and cherish this February evening and the fragrance from the candle and the steeping of the tea make it a bit more special.

 
 I love this little pocket of holidays – beginning with Ground Hogs Day, then Mardi Gras (for all of us in South Louisiana) next to Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and culminating with Easter and Passover – so quaint and simple. And then, the first day of spring is in there somewhere. The weather is still unsettled and some days we must stay inside to rummage through our houses, sorting, finding, doing, and some days give us sunshine and we go in our yards to check the buds on fruit trees and move away the leaves to see what might be peeking beneath. I watch the small birds that are visiting in the side yard under my kitchen window, the ones that seem to make the ground move as they do. I wait for the robins to come from the woods and to see a lone honey bee in the sparse clover – it’s the cusp, a place between winter and spring, a place to watch how Nature moves so beautifully from one season into the other.
 

I look for the signs of spring while holding on to the quietness of winter, quiet here in south Louisiana anyway. I need more time in the winter. I want to write more and paint more, when spring arrives, I am outside putting together some sort of garden. I am so pathetic then, no discipline to stay inside.
It seems there is a conflict as to when spring will arrive according to the Almanac: “As you may have heard, Punxsutawney Phil, arguably the most famous prognosticating groundhog in the United States, did not see his shadow this weekend, which means spring is supposed to come a bit early this year. Of course, as we reported last month, we’re not expecting an early spring. So, now the race is on to find out who is right, the Almanac or the rodent.”

 

Don’t you love the lightheartedness of this? Amongst a world of virtual images and digital everything, there is still room for a groundhog and the farmer’s almanac trying to decide when spring will arrive! I feel happier just reading this – hope you do too.

 
 
 
I also feel happier looking at some still lifes in my friend, Tere’s early spring yard – so beautiful and so promising. Some people use paints to cover a blank canvas, she uses flowers…

 

 

 







and my favorite…

 
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an opportunity

It seems January is having its way with the country this year. I can’t recall being “housed in” for this long.I am trying to make good use of this time away from the garden, away from the lawnmower and all the outside things that take my time in summer. I have become reacquainted with my inside space and at the beginning of this hibernation period, I was a bit overwhelmed – so much was out of sorts (I may have mentioned, on occasion, the little cobwebs that have taken residence here while I was not looking).

But then, I managed to see it for what it was, a winter wonderland of piddling when I’m restless and carrying my broom around sweeping here and there and stopping to piddle some more, and time in the kitchen to sort bowls and dishes and go through my spice cabinet to replace and sometimes, discard – all of this while a winter soup is on the stove and a fire is keeping the kitchen warm and me company.

 
Anyway, when I put all of that “confusion” and disorder in this amber light of hearth and home, my anxiety disappears and my attitude became something more palatable – it became an opportunity to nest. I don’t have a hit list or any lofty expectations – just time spent wandering around in here landing in an interesting corner and tidying up a bit, while Mother Nature makes her wintery mess outside – a muddle of twigs and branches and decay I will happily tend to this spring as I leave the indoors to fend for itself until winter arrives once again.

 

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.

Edith Sitwell

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winter

 
I drug the Christmas tree to the burning pile this morning.It is a guilty pleasure I suppose, to burn my very dead tree, but I recycle so much I need more than my allotted one roadside can and I compost nearly everything so, I burn my tree. I will sit there on a winter afternoon in January and I watch the fire while giving it a fond farewell. Anyway, along the way to its final resting place icicles fell from its branches. They are  there in the winter grass and I know, that this spring, when I cut the grass these fragments of this Christmas’ adornments will catch the light of the warm spring sun and glisten; I will see them and think of now. I will remember this Christmas. So, I leave them where they are and I say adieu to this holiday season and a fond farewell to the tree that occupied a special place our home for a while. 

 
I have not been outside in a few days so I explored a bit to see what winter had done. It has brought visitors from the North – small warblers camouflaged in the winter grass that seem to make the ground move as they do, it was enchanting to see them once again. And the starkness of the woods helped me to see through and be thankful for the lushness of summer but enjoying this moment to “look within”. The rabbits are there hiding in their holes and now and then darting about looking for food, sometimes I see their backsides – their cottontails – bounding about and I naturally think of Peter! And the raccoons come out at night, looking for food and threatening the smaller animals, I know that because of my diminished chicken population (sometimes I forget to close the door to the coop). Winter is challenging for animals and people.
I did find more camellias near the woods. I thought they were over by now but there are some left – almost a revitalization. Anyway, I picked a few for inside and one smaller one especially to sit in a Christmas present, a tiny pot Elizabeth made for me in her pottery class, one of my most treasured Christmas gifts. Even in winter there is beauty to bring inside.
LSU 1974
I suppose that is what I’m trying to say with this post, trying to remind you how each season has its purpose and its beauty – just as each season of our lives has its. Like spring and summer, our beauty and purpose is very much apparent in our youth but as we continue, like winter, the landscape becomes a bit more puzzling and our purpose must be redefined. As an art student I painted old, weathered faces – I had a fascination with and regard for the miles of life that were evident – years and years of wisdom, wisdom that needed a place to be. We all have purpose always, in each season of our lives. Just like the woods in winter, as time goes on, time gives us more opportunity to look within and redefine.
 Read the poem beneath and the first time you read it, think of it literally, think of the seasons, and them read it again and think of it figuratively and substitute the seasons of nature for the seasons of your life…
 
There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you…. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.Ruth Stout
 
 
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hearth, home, and art

There is frost on the roof of my neighbor’s shed and the fire logs in  from last night are embers in my fireplace – in this early morning, this house looks so warm and wonderful. Wonderful to me, not wonderful to any standard for it is a scattered mess of Christmas remnants, holiday leftovers and empty boxes but, for me, it is all as it should be.
I love the days after Christmas, the days that gingerly take us into the new year, into January, the coldest month. I love that I can be home and can piddle and explore this space that has contained my life for nearly 3 decades. I know exactly how the winter sun comes in through the back door and how the sunsets through the keeping room and glazes over the room with amber – it is a friendly cast, unlike the morning sun that reveals the dust and smudges that are always there beneath the chairs and along the baseboards. But the evening sun, that is my friend; it blankets the room in a glistening haze that makes it all seem magical and warm and no mind is paid to the dust.

 I am so happy to be here at this point in life , both physical and metaphysical,  where I see beyond, this place beneath the surface of youth and beneath the surface of “dust”. I have been there. I have had my share of superficial moments and I am happy that I did; it enables me to understand it all a bit better. What I can’t seem to understand, however is getting stuck there – life is one big reveal but it seems sometimes some people don’t turn that page.

 

 Like you, I look ahead to the new year with hope for a better world and a new batch of goals for myself. I need to write then down this year so that next year I can read them. Not to check them off or to see if I was successful, life is not a “test” – but, hopefully, to see growth, growth in my interpretation of what is important. It seems life is somewhat of a funnel – our expectations and wants are so huge and diverse when we are young and as we get older they tend to funnel down and we want only the intangibles , we understand more about want and need and how true happiness only comes from within.

 

Anyway, nothing about that today on this crisp winter morning when the house is still, the coffee pot is full and the long December day is ahead. I have not painted in 3 days now and I am feeling the void. I have to start something today, just some paint on a surface, just a burst of color to give more purpose to my day. I wish more people could find the courage to create – art soothes your soul. In our art classes in the high schools there is barely a word spoken – all typical classroom problems disappear and the space becomes a zone, a zone of Zen, a space to be you and to reflect. I just don’t think enough people understand the value of art.
Vincent van Gogh got me through college and still lingers in my life – when I think of pure art, art for the sake of art, I think of him. One summer I was able to go to the south of France and through the windows of the train I saw the cypresses, van Gogh’s cypresses, and time transcended and I grew more appreciative of his work and who he was. His short life was filled with reveal and he turned pages rapidly, too fast, for he reached the end before the world realized who he was.
 
 
 


 
 I end this post-Christmas, post season of commercialism entry with a quote from him that I hope may inspire you and become something to build upon in the new year. Remember art is not just paints and canvas, it is private words in a journal, a poem on the back of your lunch bag, a walk in the woods, a meal well prepared, a small garden or the just way you wear your hat…
 
 


 

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looking within

The first day of winter is cold here, I am glad. Yesterday morning was not so good for me – there was an issue about too much money and the company we use for our charge card business. The details are not worth typing but the vulnerable and helpless feeling that eventually caused anger was something that barreled into my quiet morning and set the tone for my day – some high tech contemporary garbage that intrudes into our lives and we have to find resolve with some automated robo system- you know what I’m saying!  

At some point, I just wanted to drop out of this 21st century hocus pocus, virtual, click click, digital, plastic world – I wanted to isolate myself from this insanity. I thought of ways to retreat – liquidate, find a simple house in a simple town and detach. All of this happened the morning after I had been to Lafayette to buy a few paints and a brush – I became witness to and part of the Christmas shopping mania in a big city/town. I really could not absorb how much stuff is out there for us to buy – I don’t have the mental capacity for that amount of volume – anyway, thus began the perfect storm – let me out of this century!!

 
Well, I’m still here…and today is much better. I have my new paints, the weather is Christmassy, my house smells like evergreen and I’m in Loreauville where there is no mall or big box stores – only my chickens and my patch of earth that I have lived on for nearly 28 years. I think the point of all this rambling (and venting) is that we all go through these little dust storms but then it gets better, the dust settles. But during this storm I was forced to reevaluate some things and I reached a higher level – and that’s what is supposed to happen. Is that what we call wisdom?

Today begins the winter solace the full cold Moon will be out on the 28th – hopefully in a clear cold winter sky. I find so much opportunity for reflection and renewal in the middle of winter as I watch how Nature sheds her luster and her protection so nobly – how she is brought to her bare bones and survives it, she gets through it only to reintroduce herself in spring. She does this each year. I suppose this is some kind of cleansing, purging that is necessary to grow and, because of my beliefs, I feel it is something I should follow – unlike man’s decrees; Nature’s laws are consistent and non-discriminate. So, I begin this winter with that in mind – the season to purge – both my thoughts and my things and in spring I hope I have looked within and am ready for the awakening of another opportunity to bloom.

I don’t know that I will write again before Christmas so I wish you pure and pronounced moments during this holiday season that will become soothing memories in the years to come – moments that find you outside looking at the Christmas sky, moments that include hugs and warm smiles and moments that find you alone in a cozy chair stopping to think about yourself and what is really important while welcoming this starkness that is winter. For it is this nakedness, that allows us to find some answers exposed there against the bareness and beauty that is Nature.
Happy Christmas.
Walden

 

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questions

we do not know the full value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory. george duhamel
I rely on my memories to make my past a special place and to , later, make this time better. This time is a bit challenging, decisions to make, jobs to do, directions to take, never knowing if I am choosing the door with the tiger behind it. I will go through January with an effort to be optimistic and enjoy the sights and the reveal of this barren season, all the while leaving behind moments that will become memories.
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moods

It seems my mood is following the rhythm of the season, dark with welcome rays of sunshine. I don’t know that I could leave the South, I am too accustomed to the milder weather and its positive effect upon my mood.There exist a paradox, for while I love the silence, the stillness, and the reveal of winter, I fear the direction of my mood when the sun hides behind the clouds for too long.My comforting memories become puddles of tears and my reflection becomes a deeper voyage within, too deep.I expect the sun to be out tomorrow and perhaps I will spend an hour or so cleaning up in my garden, preparing for spring.

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