Sunday, December 16, 2007

Third Sunday in Advent...

... and still hardly any Christmas cards done. It seems to be only really the British who impose this particular form of expensive self-torture on themselves, but we have to do it or we assume our friends and relations don't like us anymore or have died.

However, despite waking late having pulled the Velux blinds down last night to conserve heat ( there was even frost on the inside of the window behind the blinds this morning ), 6 a.m. starts having rather gone by the board of late, I decided I preferred to set off for a walk in the beautiful frosty sunlight than embark on them. The previous night Tom had embarked on a beef-stock-making project, involving marrow bones, celery, leeks, carrots etc and all of our largest pans, and generating so much steam that, coldest night of the year notwithstanding, we were obliged to have the kitchen window open. I left him to continue with this endeavour, which he is only now concluding, the latest episode in the drama being dropping the largest cast iron pan in a sink of soapy water and the consequent tsunami soaking him and probably half the kitchen, but at least he is doing the washing-up himself.

So off I went, passing Victor's frosted leeks on the way,

the sun was beginning to melt some of the frost, but in the corners where it hadn't reached, the precious crystals remained, on grasses

and leaf litter and ivy leaves.

In the harrowed field by the stone cross, the pools of standing water I had long been contriving to make into something interesting have at last, by way of the freeze, yielded some results .

One must admire the humble but pernicious dock,

despite ploughing and herbicide, the harrow and the frost, it stands up proud and pretty at last in etiolated translucency amidst the ice.

The road goes on, and the sun is warming,

the leafless and mistletoe-balled trees show through to blue gradations of winter landscape and frost-crisped fields, but the open field are frequented by hunters on Sundays and anyway Molly has balls of muddied ice collecting between her toes, and I find my mind keeps returning to the beef gravy I know is intensifying and reducing on in the kitchen, and fantasies of it with mince and buttered carrots and mashed potato and parsnips.

There are many things I'd really rather do than assemble and write Christmas cards this afternoon, not least catching up with everybody's blogs. Then I've a strong fancy to curl up with a warm lapdog and watch 'The Seventh Seal', or peruse some of the deliciously inviting photography books I had for my birthday. But I'll feel better when they're done, and with a joint effort, we'll get through them fairly easily really. And today is Radio 3's 'Christmas around Europe', which will provide a festive backdrop. We've just had Finland, can't say I'm too impressed with Estonia so far...

The cards await.


Fire Bird said...

I expecially like the picture of the road - the light is full of yearning

marja-leena said...

Yes, I like that one too, all of them. Some look like abstract paintings. Nice glimpse into your life again, though I don't think it's only the British who do this 'self-torture'.

Catalyst said...

No, unfortunately, the 'self-torture' crossed the Atlantic, too. 'Course, a lot of us came from the UK many years ago.

robinstarfish said...

This was a fine Christmas card in itself. Thanks for sending it. Merry merry.

jzr said...

As always wonderful photos! Do what your heart desires, I say!! The Christmas cards could wait another day!!

julie said...

Ah, I do miss frosty mornings. They happen here about once a leap year or so, and if you don't wake up early enough you miss it.

Thanks, as always, for the gorgeous photos. I love the icy water one - it looks a lot like a satellite image of iceburgs :)

And thanks for reminding me to write Christmas cards.

Lucy said...

I really love frosty bright days, they always cheer me up!
I know other countries do Christmas cards too, though the British really do top the league by a long way apparently. Of the people I have more direct contact with, it seems that the Antipodeans have largely abandoned them, and the French scarcely bother but sometimes write little cards in the New Year, which I would hate as I'm happy to have it all over with by then.
The first batch of cards Tom and I did together before we were married and after many checks and reverses in our lives previously was a somewhat emotionally rigourous experience; fortunately I had won a bottle of port in a raffle at work that day, and we downed the lot and did all the cards all in one fell swoop. The list now has I suppose, evolved from the one we made then. I don't really mind doing it, it's part of the Christmas busy-ness which is always ultimately quite energising. I'm just glad I don't live a normal life with full-time work, kids, elderly relatives, money worries etc etc that flesh is heir to.

leslee said...

Oh yes, port or other alcoholic beverage does seem to help get those cards done, at least when imbibed in moderation. Lovely pictures and descriptions of your walk - thanks for taking us along.

I barely left the house - nasty weather here today. Managed a handful of cards - and a few more to go. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, Christmas cards. Every year I almost decide not to send any, but the first one arrives (always a most beautiful one sent by the same person, carrying hugely nostalgic memories) and - oops - my heart lifts with some strange, embracing feeling of connection with friends over the years, and then I'm finally in the Christmas card Zone. Can't say the same feeling extends to much family ...... oh dear.

moe lauher said...

I thought today would be a good day to tell you how much I enjoy your journey across blogdom. I admire your persistence even as I attempt to establish my own.

Lucy said...

Leslee, thanks. I'm not sure a bottle between two in an evening constitutes moderation, though one of our friends at the time said 'What? You managed to make a bottle of port last a whole evening?'. It helped anyway.
Pippa, Moe, what lovely unexpected visitors today, I'm really delighted! Pippa, your sanguine attitude to the dreaded bifolding stationery items puts me to shame.
Moe - so glad you're back and posting. You were my first ever commenter! There's some as get bitten and some as don't; my problem has mostly been not to get too obsessed by it. But yours is looking good, and I'll put you on the roll and come over more often now.

meggie said...

Your posts are always so beautiful.
Love the photos.

Sheila said...

Oh, for a walk in the country. My retreat already seems so long ago.

Regarding Christmas cards, we take full advantage of the twelve days of Christmas, and are happy if we can get them delivered by Epiphany. Which may not happen this year! We haven't started, and now I'm sick!

An which is no small task, trying to cover so many parts of the globe in addition to the several pages of addresses on our USA list.

Thankfully, I know that no friendships depend upon the tradition, but I enjoy it.

You've given me an idea. Options beyond hot chocolate might be helpful!