A Visit from Jack

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Jack Frost
by Helen Bayley Davis

Someone painted pictures on my
Windowpane last night —
Willow trees with trailing boughs
And flowers, frosty white,

And lovely crystal butterflies;
But when the morning sun
Touched them with its golden beams,
They vanished one by one.

Old Man Winter roared into town with a generous gift of snow over the weekend, and it looks like he’s here to stay this time.  Which suits me just fine.  I’ve always preferred winter’s cold over summer’s heat, but have come to enjoy it even more since the onset of ME/CFS.  My heat tolerance is extremely low, but cold remains positively invigourating.  I’ll take invigourating any way I can get it these days!  The pain factor does go up several notches during the winter, but feeling less limp and muzzy-headed more than makes up for that.

Jack Frost also paid us a visit in recent days, and Alex captured some lovely frost patterns on her bedroom window, including the photo above.  Her window doesn’t usually frost up like that, so our old house must have shifted a bit again over the summer, creating a tiny opening somewhere around the frame.  The even older farmhouse in which I grew up had frosty windows galore, so one of my favourite childhood pastimes was to go from window to window, seeing what fantastical images were hiding in the frost patterns.    Living in isolation in the country tends to cultivate a very active imagination, so Jack Frost’s artistry kept me well entertained when it was too cold to play outside.

Autumn will always be my favourite season, but I also love the stark beauty of our winter landscapes.  We’re blessed with an abundance of winter sunshine in this part of the world and nothing is more beautiful than a fresh fall of snow, sparkling in the bright sunshine, with a brilliant blue winter sky overhead.   Nobody in foreign climes believes me when I say that being outside on a sunny -20C. day can feel absolutely wonderful, but it really and truly is quite splendid.  Bracing, but splendid.   -30 and lower, not so much, but even a deep freeze is tolerable if you’re bundled up enough and walking at a brisk pace!  Winter driving has never been one of my favourite activities, but winter walking is definitely on my favourites list.  Maybe it’s genetic imprinting from my pioneer ancestors, but there’s something exhilarating about bundling up and facing the elements head on.  I’ve been far too much of a houseplant over the past several years, so am hoping that I can experience regular doses of winter’s splendour over the next four or five months.

The Winds of Change

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“Come, little leaves,” said the wind one day,
“Come o’er the meadows with me and play:
Put on your dresses of red and gold –
For summer is gone and the days grow cold.”
 

The wind had been playing gently with the leaves for a few days, sending a few raining down with each little gust, but I thought that I’d have a chance to get some shots of the stunning colour lining both sides of our street this morning.  I took the above picture on Saturday afternoon, and that was the only tree on the block that was entirely turned.  By last evening, though, every tree on the street was a gorgeous shade of yellow gold, and that particular tree was even more beautiful.  Alas, the wind decided to start playing in earnest overnight, and the trees are quite bare already.  If it’s possible to have a torrential downpour of leaves, we’ve had one in the past 12 hours.  Oh well, Alex got some lovely shots at Kildonan Park on Sunday, so I’ll share those with you instead, after she’s finished editing them.

Meanwhile, here’s one more flower shot, and definitely the last for this year.  I was so taken with the unexpected roses that I forgot all about these beauties.  Richard calls them Michaelmas daisies, but I suspect that they’re just a cousin of the ones that he knew in England.  We call them hardy asters in this part of the world, but whatever the proper name, they’re lovely.
The Winds of Change
We’re headed for a high of 23 C. today, but today’s wind will bring an end to our Indian summer.  Tomorrow will be 12 degrees, then single digits for the rest of the week, so this really and truly is it.  It has been an incredible run, though, so nobody can have any complaints this year.  After a very mild winter we had a very early spring, a long hot summer, and a pretty decent autumn thus far.  So, even if Old Man Winter roars into town early, and in a particularly ugly mood, there will be no grumbles from this household.  At least not until February. 😉

Happy New Year!

Birthday flowers, my favourite kind of surprise!

Oh hurray, it looks like I’m back in business here again.  I’ve tried to bring an end to my self-imposed blogging exile a few times since the start of the year, but the blogging gods were in a snit and weren’t going to let me back in.  If I hadn’t been able to post tonight, I was going to throw in the towel here and head back to Blogger with my tail between my legs.  Thankfully I seem to have been spared that walk of shame.  Not that it’s shameful to blog over there, but I promised that I’d not be moving again any time soon, and I didn’t want to have to go back on my word.

Anyhoo, we’ve hung new calendars on the wall, and the calendar of my own life flipped to a new page yesterday, so it’s the perfect time for a fresh start at this blogging lark.  And it does feel fresh again, so let’s see if I can keep it up.  I was feeling totally drained again for a while, and it’s absolute essentials only at such times.  As I’ve stated many times, there are peaks and valleys anyway with the CFS, but I’m not terribly good at pacing myself, even after seven years, and it always catches up to me.  Old habits die hard, and it’s a constant struggle to rein myself in, but perhaps common sense will prevail a bit more this year!

I’m just thinking back to see if there’s anything since my last blog post that should be recorded here.  The remainder of the autumn was pretty uneventful, I think, apart from the fact that it seemed to never really end.  We did have a bit of snow and cold in November to make us think that we were heading into winter at the usual time, but then bizarre warmth returned,  and with the lack of snow, this was really the winter that wasn’t until just a couple of days ago.  My birthday week is traditionally the coldest part of the winter, so we had been joking with each other that it would all come crashing down around us for my birthday,  and sure enough, it did.  Alex went out on Monday or Tuesday with just a sweater over a t-shirt, and there was very little in the way of snow around.   Old Man Winter roared into town in full fury on Wednesday, though, and by Thursday night we had a good covering of snow again, and the temperature was -26C. when I shut off my computer for the night.   That’s more like it!  Oh, I know, the break from the usual was nice, and it’s going to make winter seem incredibly short, but we’re used to four distinct seasons here and it didn’t feel right to not have some real winter happening.  It’s also necessary for keeping things in balance in the natural world.  Winter’s cold kills off all sorts of nasties in the soil and such, and also enables our native trees and plants to go through their natural cycles.

December 14th was our 20th wedding anniversary.  Wow, did those years fly by in a hurry!  And how did we celebrate such a momentous occasion?  Why, by having a new bathtub installed.  Beat that for the ultimate romantic gesture! 🙂  It wasn’t intentional, just a brain blip when Richard booked the appointment, but we’re not given to grand gestures anyway, so didn’t see any reason to change it to another date.  A tub full of hot water and epsom salts  is my best friend a lot of the time, and a new one was long overdue, so I was just happy to see it here, regardless of the timing.

The Christmas season as a whole was very nice, and I was thrilled to get the decorating done right on Advent Sunday, as per tradition, and with minimal difficulty.  The cards were a bit of a struggle as I ended up having to rush through all of them at one go, which was too much, but I’ll be prepared next year.  My apologies to those of you who received your card late, and also an apology to collectors  for the lack of Christmas stamps.  I ordered the stamps in early November, as per usual, but they went walkabout and I actually only received them last week.  Luckily I had lots of other stamps on hand, but held on as long as I dared, hoping for the Christmas ones.  The mailing date should have still been fine, but of course this would be the year when Canada Post would push the deadline up by about 10 days.  Sigh.  Oh well, the thought was there, and surely that counts.   Christmas itself was lovely, until I got about halfway through the meal preparations, yet again.  So, I really need to admit defeat there, and we’ll come up with an alternate plan for next year.  It turns out that I’m the only one who’s really in love with a traditional Christmas dinner, and I could have been saving myself a lot of worrying about whether or not I’d be able to pull it off, as well as the actual work,  for years now.  Hmph.  But that’s a small thing, compared to the season in general and yes, like I said, it was lovely!

The new year arrived quietly, as it always does.  You’re seeing a pattern here, right?  We do acknowledge it and all, but party animals we simply are not, and that has nothing to do with energy levels.  New Year’s Eve was never a big deal when I grew up, but Mom used to make something a bit special to eat on New Year’s Day, and that’s how I’ve always done things, too.  It was the same in Richard’s formative years, so no compromises necessary there.

Which brings me to my birthday yesterday.  Yup, you guessed it, a quiet celebration, but what a lovely day it was, right from start to finish.   So lovely, in fact, that I had to take a long nap after eating the scrumptious, luxury fare that Daughter made for my birthday meal.  But hey, I am nudging fifty now, right?   The two with whom I share an abode always spoil me ridiculously well on my birthday, and of course greetings from friends and family, near and far, always make the day special, too.  A big thank you to all of you who took the time to send a greeting, in whatever form – I felt pretty loved by the end of the day!  I’m still basking in the glow, actually, and I expect that it will last for some time to come. 🙂

And now I’m about all talked out for the moment, so I’ll leave off here.  Happy 2012, everyone, and may it be a stupendous year for each and every one of you!