Tick tock – Whrrrrrrr. Tempus Fugit.
And then it was Winter.
Even Christmas has come and gone already, in fact, only a couple minutes yet remain in this year known as 2010.
I know that, in many ways, and for lots of people, 2010 has not been the best year and when I think back on some of the details – the earthquakes, the oil spills, the suicides, the financial hardships – well, for all those things, it’s not a year to which I’ll be sorry to bid adieu.
But I’m hard pressed to say anything at all bad about the year, despite those serious unpleasantries. For me, it’s been a pretty terrific year and I have no end of things for which I’m so grateful. Good times with my family and with my friends who are also my family. Sunny days and flower-filled gardens. That warm purring weight on my back each morning when I wake up. So many blessings. It was this year in which I felt less like a caterpillar and a little more like a butterfly, so I was pleased to find a couple for our holiday wreath.
Even though December’s days were short and cold and often dim, you’d be wrong to assume there weren’t plenty of flowers happening at the Nest. And in fact, it wasn’t until mid-month that our bird bath’s froze solid for the first time this fall, so it hasn’t even been all that cold until just before Solstice.
This pink African violet is almost always in bloom and December’s arrival brought a festival of Christmas cactus bloomings. The first one down below is a special treat, too, as it appeared to be in its death throes when we first met last February. What a treat that it’s responded so well to my care that it’s blooming in time for its namesake holiday.
This orangey cactus is blooming on an old plant we rescued from disposal at the dump last spring. It’s previous owner was prevented from heaving it into the trash bin by Mr. Downstairs along with several others. This one came upstairs to live with us. Transplanting this plant into a larger pot that will give it room to spreads its roots a little is on my Winter Weekend To Do list. Maybe by next December it’ll offer twice as many blooms.
The pink patio hibiscus is indoors for the winter and has dropped nearly all its leaves, as it slips into winter semi-consciousness. But it saved one last fabulous double blossom for early December. In a few other pots here and there around the apartment, the summer’s geraniums – come indoors with their asparagus fern pot-mates – have been blooming lightly all month.
It’s no secret that I love the whole holiday season but got to enjoy it on my terms this year, not in terms of decorating banquet halls and hosting holiday parties as a job, but for the joy of it. One of the few disappointments about the Nest is that I can’t quite imagine where inside I would set up a full-sized Christmas tree. I’m sure I could come up with a solution, were I to fully turn my attention to the matter…but since I’m away for the Red Letter Day, it doesn’t make much sense to go through all of that rigamarole, not when I have my little Charlie Brown and the fibric optic trees.
And so I decorate the Christmas pothos, as you can see above, and this year, I added a string of purple lights to the holiday mix, which has been fun.
But there’s just something about a fresh evergreen dressed in many colors that tickles me silly during the long winter nights and so it wasn’t too hard to justify shopping around at local nurseries for a tree for our deck garden.
An Alberta spruce ended up being the lucky winner, this one named Drosselmyer. In time, he will find a home out in the yard, but for now he’s been a bright addition to the winter deck garden and might even be a container dweller for a year or two.
The weather may’ve been a little unseasonally warm for December, but it’s always an unpredictable month here on the Cape, with the ocean to keep us warm as often as not. Although making merry in December is no longer my job, it remains very much my business and there were no end of fun activities to remind us of the season when the weather did not.
Early in December I attended a swanky Christmas Cookie Swap with a pal of mine that was lots of fun. Our hosts had dressed their home in all its fine gay apparel – there were TWO trees and one of those revolved – and a wonderful soundtrack of holiday tunes seasoned an evening of old friends and new.
It was a large party, too, so there were about thirty or more different varieties of cookie, which not only gave me some great ideas for my own holiday baking plans later on in the month, but also – great singing fishes – outfitted me with a wonderful platter of nearly-infinitely varied cookies to bring to the Caroling Party at Trout Towers the following week.
On the whole, it was a raucous and merry month of anticipation and activity, flavored with songs and laughter and love and good cheer, just as it should be.
And of course, despite all that cheery shinyness, the Shining Merry Brightness at month’s end always also feels a little like a juggernaut barreling down the tracks toward me, a thing for which I can never be properly prepared. So I bake and I sing and think about those I love and how I’d like to remember them and eventually it almost all gets done.
Naturally, just about the time I got serious about getting things done is when our weather finally turned cold and seasonal, perfect for dashing about in a one horse open sleigh, but not always so convenient for dashing about in parking lots with a bunch of others feeling the Holiday Panic.
And as it turned out, I had it almost all finished and so didn’t especially mind when a predicted two inches of slushy snow turned into a surprise foot of the white stuff, smothering our world in glittering wonder just in time for Solstice (Sadly, the storm did prevent us locally from enjoying the solar eclipse that welcomed the change of the seasons this year.).
It was a special December in a new way, too, since I was invited to my first-ever Solstice celebration, a wonderful dinner with good friends, just as the season decrees. As the storm clouds slipped away overhead, we celebrated the year that had passed and welcomed the year before us and we called the Light back to our days. Then we each wrote our hopes and wishes for the year ahead on a piece of paper, all of which were tied to our Yule Log, which we added to the merry blaze in the fireplace.
Christmas itself found me in the loving arms of my family in Connecticut, where there was a little less snow on the ground, but still a covering of white for the ease of sleigh runners pulled by magic reindeer. Our celebrations there were more of the same, great company, good food, songs and laughter. I can’t say I’ll ever get tired of such good times.
And now – tick tock, whrrrrrr – there’s really only minutes until we welcome the New Year. Time to go pop my bottle of Asti. 2011. Sounds space aged, doesn’t it, but still little sign of my rocket jet pack. I can find much to praise about the year to which we say farewell. The year brought further adjustments and changes to my life. I had the courage to try new things as I rediscover myself and explore who I want to be, and also the wisdom to realize when some of those things weren’t quite what I was looking for. I’ve made many new friends and reunited with plenty of “old” ones.
I look forward to the year before us, to the explorations and celebrations and ruminations…and germinations that will come along with our fresh calendars. I don’t have any recent pictures of the Catsby (since receiving a wealth of catnip themed presents for Christmas, he’s been spending a bit of time wearing berets and reading Kerouac and Ginsberg in dimly lit corners of the apartment), but he joins me in wishing each of you many blessings for the year laid out before us.
Happy New Year!