There’s a Christmas song that starts “in the bleak mid-winter…” and while to me, Christmas is never bleak, I think right now at the end of January, we’ve reach that description.
Lately I’ve been trying to cheer myself with little gatherings of flowers, like this bouquet of chamomile (found at Trader Joe’s!) and I’m on the hunt for signs of life out in the garden and out on woodsy walks. There are days when it warms up and I can feel spring coming— and the birds start to chirp and bulbs peek up from the ground. Then there are days like today— when it’s all just gray, and it’s hard to get excited to do much of anything except brew another cup of tea!
However, now that its so dark so early, I have been getting some good evening reading in. I’ve started the new year with the books by The Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen, and am so enjoying her woolly adventures in the rural Yorkshire dales. I know she and her family have been featured on television in the UK, and I’m hoping to be able to see those as well! I imagine they are perfect sit-and-knit viewing! The best kind, if you ask me….
Thinking about books, I think my favorite book from 2019 was the book The White Witch by Elizabeth Goudge. It just blew me away, there were so many jewels of wisdom in it….so many deep thoughts and so much history. The story takes place in 17th century England around the time of the English Civil War. The story centers mainly on the character of Froniga, who is half English aristocrat and half gypsy. Because of this, she has one foot in each of these two very different worlds– one of privilege and propriety, the other one of magic, secrets and not having a true home. The story unfolds as her cousin, Lord Robert, gets caught up in the fervor of the anger against the king and joins men he admires into fighting the civil war. The story deals with how the lord’s family members, community, and even his priest, deal with his fervor and fanaticism, while others deal with their faith and how much they’ll trust to God in their lives. And since it takes place during a war there is of course intrigue, battle, and unrequited love. So much happens in this story, and I’d hate to give it all away.
All this to say, Elizabeth Goudge does a fantastic job at creating a cast of characters who are so unique and unforgettable, and a wonderful story as well. She was the only child of an Anglican theologian and priest, and her handling of the human experience and relationship with faith show her to also be so deep and knowledgeable. This book is one that will really stick with me, for many years to come. I think I’ll have to read it again, there was just so much good stuff in it….
Something else I have been thoroughly enjoying is this very old quilt I bought at an antique shop last fall. This actually came from Blue Heron Antiques when I took part in their autumn open house. I didn’t MEAN to buy a quilt….but I fell absolutely in love with this piece. Such tiny, minute stitches….and the fabric is all my colors. I am very much of the opinion that quilts like these are art— even master pieces— and the old ones, done completely by hand, blow me away….
I am also, quite humbly, working on my own quilt— this one has been in the works since last spring! All the fabric is linen dyed with natural materials— indigo, cosmos, madder root and black walnut. I am in the home stretch….all I need is a block of time to really sit down and work on the finishing of the binding. Then I can (gently!) wash it and see how it fluffs up, and put it to use! Surely I will have it done in time to bring it with me to the May Day festivities at Hunters Home….
And well….here are just a few little other things I’ve been up to this month, this beginning of a new decade….
My littlest is now 6. 6 year’s old!! He got snow on his birthday, which cancelled his party— but we still had cake and he had his presents from us, so he was happy!
We cut up our old Christmas tree (and when I say ‘we’ you know I mean my husband, right? He got a chainsaw for Christmas!) and put it in the chicken yard for the ladies to enjoy.
Despite these gals’ rather unimpressed expressions (who can impress a chicken, really?) they’e been enjoying sitting in it, on it, and beside it, and if they’re feeling crazy, they might also take a bite of the pine needles (they really don’t seem impressed with that, either) The rabbits have been enjoying it as well, and Beatrix will chew the pine with gusto. I think by the time next December rolls around, she’ll have this tree completely mulched down! Beatrix has also been very busy with her new babies, but I will share more on them very soon…..
And so….that is what’s happening here these days. Pretty quiet. The garden is quiet, and we are quiet. I have been painting as much as I can, which is good! My husband is busy studying to take his first in a series of exams to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), so that’s been a lot of our family focus in the evenings and weekends.
As for right now, I think my tea has steeped enough for me to turn my attention to it, and I’ve some sketching (and laundry! always!) to attend to.
Have a wonderful weekend friends, and stay warm!