Yesterday was the Second Sunday of Advent, so my husband lighted two candles after I read the prayer. In another week, he will light three candles, and finally during the last week of Advent, he will light four candles every evening until Christmas.
While the days are growing shorter and darker outside, the light is still increasing. Inside, my table-top trees light up the house. Outside, every evening more and more Christmas lights appear in the neighborhood. While we await the Nativity of Jesus once again, He is already here.
A neighbor recently commented on the unusual patterns of color we are seeing this year on the autumn leaves in our neighborhood. She attributed them to our unseasonal snowstorm and freeze a few weeks ago. I hadn’t noticed the unusual patterns, but I was glad she brought them to my attention. I was reminded of the poem “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins in which he gives glory to God for dappled things and…
...All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
At the same time, there is beauty in monochrome. In our backyard, the ash trees simply ignored the snowstorm. The leaves were green before the storm, and they remained so after the snow and ice melted. Now, they have turned to their reliable shade of gold.
Here we are again in the dog days of summer. The soil in our neighborhood is sandy with a hardpan of clay beneath the surface — a real challenge for my gardening aspirations. However, over time I have learned that some plants do well and even thrive here. While other plants are looking a little sad, the potted Lantana (pictured above) is the star of our courtyard. When it goes dormant in winter, I will transplant it into the ground.
The varieties pictured below are gracing the front yards of our neighbors on the block.