Out in the courtyard, the first, unexpected blossom has appeared. And the violets are in bloom!
I like looking at things that are tall. When I walk, I look at the treetops (which is sometimes hazardous to my feet), and I look at the mountains. Though I love them both, the mountains provide the best food for thought. There is mystery there. In spite of all the expert climbers who have ever climbed, I am convinced there are places that no human foot has touched. I imagine treasures there, known only to the birds — a rare blossom rising from a crag in the rocks, a hidden cave that glistens with veins of gold, a hidden spring, a strange creature never previously seen.
Beyond their physical mystery, mountains remind me that there is so much more to life than I am able to discover or grasp. There is so much more in this world that I will never know. This is a source of abiding joy for me. Life is inexhaustible. There is always more. There is always hope. There is always God.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Gentle Reader!
Woke up to snow this morning — a cocoon of rest if I allow myself to be enfolded in its beauty.
Took my camera with me this morning in the hopes of seeing something interesting, but all I saw was an abundance of mistletoe in the neighborhood ash trees. When the trees come into leaf, the mistletoe will be hidden, and the birds will carry the seeds from tree to tree. These parasites eventually kill the trees if left to spread. We had our trees cleared a couple of summers ago, but we will need to carefully watch them.
Who needs mistletoe to kiss your Sweetie at Christmas?
Unfortunately, Gentle Reader, even in the plant world there are some stinkers.
Catalpa trees are beautiful when young, with pink and white blossoms that last all summer. They don’t live long, but even in old age, the bare branches form a lovely winter silhouette against the morning sky.
Yesterday, we had to say goodbye to Emerson the Dog, aged 16. I picture him romping in heaven with all the other dogs who have faithfully loved and entertained their owners. I am grateful for everything he taught me.
Two weeks ago, I planted some seeds in my studio and placed them on warming pads. Most of them have sprouted. Now, if I can only keep them alive until it’s warm enough to move them outside…
A few days ago in my post “Survivors,” I wrote about my cuttings that survived the winter. I was particularly fond of the Tall Sedum (pictured bottom left). Its four leaves reminded me of a propeller that was just waiting to be launched into spring. Imagine my dismay yesterday, when three of the leaves fell off, and the remaining one turned yellow. I was about to pull the cutting with a sigh, when I noticed new life growing at the base of the stem.
Speaking of misleading appearances, here is a true story: My husband and I had our careers in the San Francisco Bay Area, where people who don’t know each other keep to themselves and avoid eye when passing on the sidewalk. When we moved to Southern New Mexico, I was shocked when a stranger smiled at me and said, ‘Hello.” One day soon after when I was walking from the parking lot to the side door of Walmart, I became aware of a biker (in leather with multiple tattoos and piercings) closing in quickly behind me. There was no one else nearby, so I became a little nervous as he drew nearer. Imagine my surprise when he rushed ahead to open the door for me.
Honestly, Gentle Reader, this really happened in the Land of Enchantment.
Distressing times in our nation and in the world. Now, in the dead of winter, the temperature drops below freezing every night. Yet, the violets are thinking about spring. The original plants, given to me by a friend, have long since died. They didn’t like the location where I planted them. However, they lived long enough to seed the surrounding area, and ever since, their offspring have delighted me year after year. Before the end of the month, they will be covered in blossoms.
I still believe in faith. I still believe in hope. I still believe in love.
As I look forward to 2021, I am starting to think about new life in the garden. All of my rose geranium, mint, and sweet potato cuttings have survived the winter in my studio (so far). Outside, the rosemary and dianthus cuttings are doing well, as well as a single cutting from my neighbor’s orange jubilee bush and a tiny volunteer from her golden ball lead tree.
On the other hand, all of my efforts with salvia cuttings have failed, and only one tall sedum and two citronella cuttings have survived. Today, I cleaned out all the failures. If the survivors can only stay alive for another two months….
Although it’s too early to plant seeds, I couldn’t resist opening my seed box to admire the contents — some carefully gathered by hand last summer, others ordered by mail, and others, alas, probably too old to germinate. In any case, they all look beautiful to me.
Dear Family and Friends,
May the Christ Child blossom in your hearts and grant you love and lasting tranquility. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
(This post was originally published back in March. Here it is again for the Christmas Season.)
Have you ever heard that the date for Christmas (December 25) was selected to coincide with a pagan holiday? Don’t believe it. The calculation is actually based on Scripture.
Every year on March 25, the Church celebrates the day when the Angel Gabriel announced the conception of the Christ to Mary. March 25 is exactly nine months prior to December 25. To see how the date for Christmas was calculated, first we need to go back to September 25, when the Angel Gabriel announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah. (Remember, during the Annunciation to Mary, Gabriel tells Mary that her cousin Elizabeth has also conceived, and Elizabeth is in her sixth month. See Luke 1:36. September 25 is six months prior to March 25.)
September 25 fell at the end of the Jewish season of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. (The date for the Day of Atonement falls on the tenth day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. It varies from year to year, falling in September or October.) During the ten day period prior to the Day of Atonement, Jews amended their behavior, prayed, repented, and gave to charity, in order to seek forgiveness from God.
According to Luke 1:9, Zechariah was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary to burn incense. The Jewish priests could only enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. (See Ex. 30:7-10.) Gabriel says to Zechariah, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.” (Luke 1:13)
So, here is the timeline:
- September 25 – Gabriel announces the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah.
- March 25 (six months from September 25) – Gabriel announces the birth of Jesus to Mary.
- June 24 (nine months from September 25) – the Church celebrates the birth of John the Baptist.
- December 25 (nine months from March 25) – the Church celebrates the birth of Jesus.
There you have it, Gentle Reader.