Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

The road less traveled by

This Eve of Christmas I wish you all a peaceful and joyous festive season and the hope that whatever path you choose from here that it may bring you to the best of all things yet to come in your life.
My picture, taken in the woods near home in Massachusetts reminds me of the wisdom of Robert Frost and fit’s perfectly, at least in my opinion, the photo challenge set by WordPress this week titled ‘Path’ … if you are twiddling your thumbs for a moment you might like to take a look at the full gallery of beauteous entires here
image
And PS:  I have  tended to opt for the road not taken in my own life and it has made a difference which others will doubtless take pleasure in judging the value of.  And so,  living as I did this past year in Massachusetts which, though not the birthplace was the home and deathplace of Robert Frost, this poem which has been tucked snugly in my heart for as long as I can remember, seems appropriate to share with you as we all gently propel through the holiday season and towards the New Year.
‘The Road Not Taken’
Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight

As previously noted I am fresh and frisky from celebrating my first Thanksgiving.  To mark this momentous, and possibly newsworthy occasion I set about making a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner.  I like the idea of Thanksgiving and would be very happy if more nations adopted the notion.  Pondering, however fleetingly to reflect on what one has to be thankful for can never be a bad thing, surely?   After one of the most epic Googlings of all time I concluded that this year I would be cooking two turkeys in the space of a month and a day because it is unforgiveable to not serve turkey for Thanksgiving and equally de trop to forsake the fowl for Christmas in  England where we will be celebrating this year.  Having settled on what I thought would be a good enough array of trimmings to sink a dry-docked battleship and simultaneously feed the navy on the leftovers I set about the bird.  The fact is that I have never ever been knowingly under-catered and being in this land of the copious plateful  it surely would be hugely rude to break my habit.

Turkey then.  The first challenge was to find one small enough for HB2 and I to eat on our own and not have the poor fellow (and The Bean who is NOT poor) gobbling nothing BUT Gobbler for the rest of November, the entire month of December and ad nauseum (potentially literally) beyond.  But find one I did and once I had apologised to it profusely and several times that it had not been pardoned by The President and instead had found itself in my poshed up paws, I brined it and roasted it exactly as I always do at Christmas. We don’t possess a roasting pan so we bought two disposable ones and cleverly fastened them together to form a sort of dutch oven with the aid of bulldog clips pinched from top secret paperwork Two Brains is working on.   The turkey was duly ready on time, The Bean had welded herself to the the oven door by the snout, intoxicated with the heady cooking aromas of a bird that weighed 1.5 times a Bean.  We lifted it onto its plate and one leg fell off. Fortunately my deft husband managed to snatch it in mid-air before it reached the shark-like jaws of the waiting Bean.  We managed to wedge the leg vaguely in it’s original position and if you didn’t look too closely it looked only slightly inebriated and wholly enticing.  I should own up that our own impending inebria helped this vision enormously.

Some while later and utterly turkey-comatose  we drowsily talked of Christmas.  For what sort of a Christmas would it be without a fine turkey bird bronzed and gleaming like a drumsticked Olympian God?  Well actually last year we were only three for the feast so we had guinea fowl and two years prior to that, our first married Christmas, and alone together in France, we  had a collective rush of blood to the head and opted for a fish.  A turbot in fact which we bore enthusiastically from the fish store on Christmas Eve, like Samuel Whiskers and Anna Maria preparing to set about the unfortunate Tom Kitten with suet and string. On Christmas Day  it occurred to us that we had not asked the chirpy girl on the fish counter to faire vider le poisson (to wit, gut the beauty) which would not be a problem for either of us except neither had the teeniest clue where a flat fish stashes it’s innards.  Hallelujah and pass the tambourine for Google …. a swift search revealed that they are, indeed not remotely where one would expect them to be.   Standing majestic and mighty  over the fish like Christopher Lee in role as a High Priest preparing to slaughter a virgin Two Brains plunged our sharpest knife from on high with lethal accuracy and our sharpest knife rebounded like a comedy rubber blade off it’s innocuous lily white skin as though it were a trampolene.  After a short pause I rather tentatively suggested scissors.  I’m not too humble to share that this was, frankly, a moment of genius.  The fish didn’t stand a chance against my snippers and I rather smugly and, may I say, with positively surgical dexterity, cut it open and  emptied it’s vital workings.  That complete, we stuffed the neat little cavity with herbs and citrus and stood reverently surveying it’s  buttered and lemoned and parsleyed allure … it had the air of a slightly macabre still-life …. strangely attractive (something I was once called by a drunk in  a friend’s living room and which I embraced as a compliment – one must cherish such delights from wherever they stem, I have always felt).  So there’s one personal myth burst … I have merrily told everyone over the years that Christmas isn’t Christmas without a turkey bird but clearly my tongue is forked …the truth is that two out of three of our most recent Christmas meals have been devoid of the indispensible gigantic fowl.

You might ask what has prompted this little sojourn into my various kitchens and indeed what value you have gained (except to know who to call if you ever need to gut a turbot or stick a stray leg back on a turkey) …. the answer lies in this week’s weekly photo challenge titled ‘It’s Not This Time of Year Without ….’ of which a cornucopia of sparkling entries here.

What can I not do without as I join the merry carnage that constitutes the season of goodwill and until this year was all about Christmas but now includes Thanksgiving too in my half-baked paradise?

Snow.  I absolutely must have snow.  Or at least I must hope it will snow.  And that is really what it is all about for me.  The notion and hope of decency and delight.  The idea that people can be kind to one another.  The concept that sharing is the right thing to do.  I have always included waifs and strays at my table.  And I always will.  Maybe in the run up to Christmas I will include a few of their stories.  Not because I have a trumpet to toot but because humble stories can speak to good hearts.  And because a humble story is where it all started ….

 dscf4449

PS:  The essential PS.  The title is from ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ by the masterly Dr Seuss.  My third daughter can still recite it word perfectly having done it as her School Christmas Play at the age of 9 and her younger sister can recite it word perfectly because she sat in on all the rehearsals waiting for this inevitably late mummy to pant up the school drive to pick them both up.  The very end goes like this:

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
And what happened then? Well...in Whoville they say,
That the Grinch's small heart Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light,
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he, HE HIMSELF! The Grinch carved the roast beast!

This perfectly Christmassy image of snow covered holly was taken in Cantal.  In February.  Holly is called ‘houx’ in French (pronounced oo) which I always take every opportunity to say because it amuses me.


							

(turn turn turn)

I’m a simple soul and I’m a fortunate one.  Not because I have riches that I can greedily count in gold pieces stashed in a safe box in a bank vault in Zurich, not because I have jewels to gloat over nor lands to survey from my ivory tower.  I’m fortunate because most of what I need I can get simply by surveying the beauty of a landscape and preferably by being in it.  I need little, I lust after less.  Mostly.  I’m imperfect so I am allowed lapses of grace from time to time.  It makes me more interesting.  That is my excuse and I will doggedly stick to it as long as I draw breath after which time people can say what they like and I won’t give a damn.

I have been here now in every month that assembles a year (today is November 1st) and I have been here through all four seasons.  Fall (Autumn it would be if I was in England) is my favourite out of four favourite seasons.  Here in New England it is truly glorious.  Nature’s blaze of glory before she breathes her glacial best and ices the landscape and the flesh for the grey and gloomy months of winter.  Those months when a blue sky is like a venous opiate lifting the spirits from varying degrees of malaise and doldrum to a frenzy of good cheer and often as not casting one back to the weary treadmill of a life lived in darkness as the days shorten such that you are never home in daylight.  I paint a despondent picture – actually I love winter as much as I love her three sisters – there is delight in the darkness, as one gathers oneself into a snuggly woolly pully and drinks cocoa or vin chaud in front of an open fire.  And for me Christmas, for others Hannukah, Eid, Diwali, las Posadas, Kwanzaa.   And making no apology for hefty comfort food.  And snow.  Mostly I love snow and ice and frost.  So winter I malign you unfairly but Fall you are the Fairy Godmother that transmogrifies landscapes such as this one into a trinket box of ruby and amber and coral sparklers and the once lime verdant slime on the water hushes its tones to  paler green lying effortlessly chic on the glistening water like an elegant cashmere shawl thrown casually over the liquid satin evening gown of a ’30s siren.

Yes, I’m a fortunate girl.  Fortunate to be able to witness all of this and fortunate not to need more.

I give you this tosh in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge entitled Transmogrify and I give you the rest of the far more admirable entries here

I define transmogrify as a magical transformation and not necessarily specifically into something grotesque or comical as Websters insists.  For example, Cinderella’s pumpkin transmogrified into a sparkling glass carriage – surprising and enchanting certainly, absurd if you are splitting hairs but not at all freakish or repulsive.  Correct me by all means, but I am confident that I have it right.  Pedant is my middle name when not using Osyth and it happens that my definition concurs with the Oxford Dictionary and after all I AM an Oxford girl ….

 PS: The title is from Pete Seeger’s wonderful song made legend by The Byrds.  The lyrics, with a few deft strokes of his own were borrowed from The Book of Ecclisiastes.  I think it rather apt to read and absorb his version as we face the last week of the bloody slanging match that is the election here and the equally bloody wrangling in England over whether or not Article 50 should be triggered.  I will remain decorously silent in opinion but believe me it is hard for me to tape my tongue on either issue.

dscf9138

Turn! Turn! Turn!

Pete Seeger

To everything, (turn, turn, turn).
There is a season, (turn, turn, turn).
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, a time to die.
A time to plant, a time to reap.
A time to kill, a time to heal.
A time to laugh, a time to weep.

To everything, (turn, turn, turn).
There is a season, (turn, turn, turn).
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to build up, a time to break down.
A time to dance, a time to mourn.
A time to cast away stones.
A time to gather stones together.

To everything, (turn, turn, turn).
There is a season, (turn, turn, turn).
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time of love, a time of hate.
A time of war, a time of peace.
A time you may embrace.
A time to refrain from embracing.

To everything, (turn, turn, turn).
There is a season, (turn, turn, turn).
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to gain, a time to lose.
A time to rend, a time to sew.
A time for love, a time for hate.
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.

And your bonus: