Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Days Before Christmas

The morning of the solstice dawned in quiet colors.

The sun lurked briefly behind the trees at the eastern edge of the meadow than faded into a soft pewter grey sky.

Clancy the black kitten sat in the window Jim had raised to let in fresh air--and let out some of the wood stove's abundant warmth.

Jim decided to take down the fire-ravaged tree that loomed uneasily over the site where we and our son lived in the two campers last winter when our house was under construction.

The wood is starting to go soft, but is still decent enough to put out good heat.

By Monday afternoon the woodshed was ranked with the result of his labors.
Notice how the chunks of beech glow in the sunlight.

Enjoying the warmth of the sun, a bit after noon on Monday I took the long way round the hay field to connect with the lane leading to the mailbox.
I hadn't really noticed this tree when it was covered in leaves, but walking past I was intrigued by the thick wrapping of vines now visible.

I don't think this is honeysuckle vine, but will take note in the spring to see if I can identify both tree and vine.
I spent Monday evening producing two entrees for Christmas dinner which will be hosted at our house.  Swedish Meatballs [I made 65!] will be served in gravy over mashed potatoes, and for those preferring a vegetarian dish there is  lasagna stuffed with several varieties of cheese and spinach.
We went to bed in a house smelling of meatballs [onion, garlic, worcestershire] and the warm breath of tomato sauce which covered the lasagna layers.

We have puttered through this balmy and sunny day before Christmas.
I lingered over pegging wash on the lines, drove down the ridge to the little store on the corner for a jug of milk and cartons of whipping cream.
I had an hour at the piano--practicing the music to accompany a friend's solo at church this week and then enjoying some of the less familiar carols that are my favorites.
Jim called on our Amish neighbors whose son was so badly injured in a logging accident early in November.
David has returned from the hospital, confined to a wheelchair without hope that he will walk again. 
I thought about this as I lingered outside tonight to enjoy the glorious sunset.
I grumble inwardly about the aches and stiffness of an aging body--but my legs still carry me on uncounted trips over the staircase each day and along the lane and around the perimeter of the field.

The sky to the southwest was already washed in golden sunset light when I left an apple cake cooling on the kitchen counter  and pushed a pan of brownies into the oven.

There was still blue sky surrounding the house and barn when I turned to look back from the middle of the hay meadow.

Jim had just wrestled an unwieldy chunk of wood into the stove and smoke billowed from the chimney, as dusk thickened. 

The sun going down in a blaze of glory!

Along the hedgerow to the east the sky deepened to dark blue, stained with the rich rose and smokey purple of the afterglow.

The sunset lingered, brilliant fire in the sky, hopefully a harbinger of another beautiful day--Christmas Day.
The house tonight smells of chocolate, and of apples, cinnamon, vanilla, and the caramel glaze poured over the cake.
My contributions for tomorrow's family meal are under control: the meatballs and gravy will go into the crockpot, the lasagna into the oven.  I will peel potatoes, perhaps make a Waldorf salad with the crisp Pink Lady apples brought home from the Beachy's Fresh Air Produce a scant mile 
down the road.
I will hoover up cat hair in the morning, take out the red-patterned tablecloth.
I don't set an elegant table--but the meal will be special, and we will enjoy our time with those of the family who can gather for the Christmas celebration.


  1. Merry Christmas Sharon to you and your family. Your words are beautiful, such contentment seems to flow from them. Enjoy the feast.

    1. Thelma; 'Contentment' is [I think] a mindset that has to be deliberately cultivated--sometimes in spite of looming anxieties--hopefully that doesn't sound pretentious--observation of the 'little things' is a way of staying sane amidst all the things that are beyond control.
      A difficult holiday for you this year, but I think you are one to also find the quiet joys.

  2. Dear Sharon ~ Merry Christmas morning. I thoroughly enjoyed another glimpse into your life there, deliciousness, beauty, contentment, family, thankfulness and so much more. Thank you ~ Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; I think those of us who garden look for something beautiful even during the 'off' seasons--its an almost daily mission to go out with my simple camera and find something to record and enjoy.

  3. I hope you enjoy writing, as much as I enjoy reading your writing. Merry Christmas!

    1. Barbee; I'm glad you enjoyed' the essay. Its a reminder that I need to discipline myself to write more often--rather than waste time on Face Book!

  4. How beautiful! The skies, the cozy home tucked into the hills, and all the delicious food are so wonderful. So sad about your neighbor's son. Wishing you and your loved ones peace and happiness for the holidays and new year. x Karen

    1. Karen; "Peace and happiness"--such precious qualities to be cultivated!
      I don't have your gift for arranging a home, but we are indeed 'cozy' this winter in our new house and grateful for the ability to tramp about outdoors.