Highlights

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The sun sparked off the tree ice this morning and all the trees looked like Christmas trees with fairy lights on. I tried to capture the sparkle, but a still photo doesn’t allow for the glitter and flash. Shooting into the sunlight wan’t easy either.

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Neither photo captures the exact effect I was striving for. And that;s great: nature has to maintain some of her secrets. Solo el misterio nos hace vivir, solo el misterio / Only the mysterious keeps us alive, only the mysterious (Lorca).

So, my wish for you on this day after New Year’s Day (all day in Canada, according to my computer) is that you explore the mysterious in your life and take great joy from it. I also hope you add the missing sparkle to these photos and share with me my fun and excitement.

Nativity

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Nativity

We keep this beautiful, hand-carved nativity scene on the sideboard all year round. It is tiny, approximately 2″ x 2″ and came from Central Europe, possibly Hungary, where a friend was travelling in the mid-seventies. He brought it back for us as a gift and we revisit it every Christmas, moving it into a more central place of honor and beauty by the Advent calendars and the Christmas scenes.

It will soon be time to remove most of these Christmas adornments. Some will stay up longer though and this is one of the pieces that will remain in sight to delight us all year round.

 

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This is another piece that will stay with us. It shows our photo of Tigger being visited by Kiki the Cat and several little puppies. Tigger gazes at them from his Royal Portrait, making them all feel welcome and protected as he endows them with the seasonal spirits that will extend well into the New Year.

Boxing Day

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23 December: my mother and I travel to my mother’s mother’s house, leaving my father to follow, if he wants to. No instructions as to where we’ve gone, or how, or when. But he’ll know and follow eventually, like the good dog he is, when the Pavlovian Parties are droolingly over.

24 December: Christmas Eve. Everyone is very secretive, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, and the ‘boy’ is sent from the room while the grown-ups discuss whatever secrets grown-ups discuss when the little one is not present. I never ask questions any more. Why should I? Little boys should be seen and not heard is the only answer I ever get.

25 December:  Christmas is here. Late last night, my grandfather, on hands and knees, shoved a box under the double-bed in the front room where my grandmother sleeps using his walking stick like a billiard cue. I could see him clearly from my bed on the floor on the far side of the room, beyond my grandmother’s sleeping place. I had a feeling it would be him. It’s been a long time since I believed in Santa Claus, let alone the spirit of Christmas. The Christmas spirits, yes, I believe in them. My grandmother keeps them locked up in a little bottle beside her bed labelled Hennessy Cognac. I have sampled the Christmas Spirits. They are nice. I believe in them. My grandmother has already risen. I’ll get up soon. I guess my father will be downstairs and the Christmas Spirits will be here in plenty. My guess is they have already begun. Joy to the world, peace at Christmas, and a truce and a laying down of arms throughout the joyous day. Perhaps I’ll get a soccer ball and we’ll play soccer in the no-man’s-land that lies between the barbed-wire tongues that simulate the trenches.

26 December: Boxing Day. By the time I get up, the gloves are off and the sparring has already begun. I hear voices, walk into the kitchen, and a hush falls on the room. Knife-edge glances slash the thick atmosphere. It’s Boxing Day. On my left, in the blue corner, my mother, smoking what is probably her tenth cigarette of the day. A thin haze of grey smoke escapes from bruised lips. Whether they are beaten or bitten, I will never know. On my right, in the red corner, my father. White-faced, hungover yet again, truly into the spirits of Christmas. He is breathing heavily, like a Boxer Dog in mid-summer heat, snoring and snorting at the leash. In the middle, my grandfather. He is keeping the combatants apart, creating his breathing space so the true Spirit of Christmas can disentangle itself from the Christmas Spirits and bring peace to earth again for at least sixty seconds between each round. I look around the heaving, threshing silence of the room. My father breaks that silence, pointing at me: “It’s all your fault!” he says, his red-dimmed eyes blazing with a sudden and renewed anger. He starts to rise, but my grandfather steps between my father and me. “Go and see granny. She’s in the kitchenette, by the stove,” he says. “Go now.” I run a gauntlet of staring eyes and go to my gran. As I shut the door behind me, voices rise higher in the room I have just left. Boxing Day, indeed. The gloves are off. The battle has begun again.

 

 

 

Three Deer

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We spotted them very late and by the time I had found my camera they had walked past the kitchen window and my only shot of them was through the bars of the back porch. Not a great photo, but better than nothing. We see them regularly in the winter, but usually at dawn of dusk. We have never before seen them at mid-day, not that we are looking for them ‘out of hours’ so to speak.

We speculated on why they were there, what they were looking for, but we could come up with no answers. Hungry? But this was an early snowfall and there would be plenty of food out there. Confused, perhaps, as were were, by the early snow? That is a possibility, but we’ll never know for sure. What I do know is that they haven’t been back. With the snow down they would leave tracks, but we have seen no tracks in the snow.

Maybe, without the photo, I would have forgotten about the and thought that maybe I was mistaken. But I have photographic evidence and no, it isn’t photo-shopped or forged. In spite of all my doubts and misgivings, they were there, in the early snow of Snovember. They passed through the garden last night for their first nocturnal visit. I heard a cough and a snuffle at the feeders, but didn’t get out of my warm bed to take a peek. This morning, they had snaffled all the seeds in the bird feeders and they left tracks leading up from the trees, then back into the woods again. The chickadees had a rough time of it as there was very little breakfast for them, early this morning. We have re-filled the feeders now, and life goes on.

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Here is a link to an earlier blog post that contains more pictures of deer in the yard.
Five Deer.

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Brexit 2

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So, I called Mrs. May, the British Prime Minister, this morning, in search of clarification and she very kindly agreed to send me the road map she had drawn up for Brexit. As you can see from the above photo of the road map, it is very simple: the truth of the matter is that in Brexit ‘the truth points the way’. So, just follow the arrows and you will arrive at a satisfactory solution that will please all parties.

Thank you so much for this road map, Mrs. May. It reminds of the RAC maps that led us through France to Spain by following one straight line that never deviated. I remember trying to follow that one straight line through Bordeaux one year, in the rush hour crowds that followed the end of a soccer match and a rugby match. Marvellous. I can’t remember how many times we got lost in the twisting turning narrow streets we encountered when we once took a false turning, away from the packed streets of revellers, while looking for our RAC booked hotel.

In the end we  picked up a street urchin and he drove with us for another half hour tour of the city before we realized that he too was ‘just taking us for a ride’, so to speak. In the end, we stopped outside a large, five star hotel, unbooked, and spent the night there. My my father and I were in the elevator, going upwards to the Nth floor. The elevator stopped and three large, husky, obviously foreign men walked in. They looked at my father in great surprise and one of them spoke to him.

“Tis the map of Ireland written all over your face,” he said in a thick Irish brogue. The other two nodded their agreement.

“Yes,” said my father in an even thicker Welsh accent that he had picked up working in the Rhondda Valley, “I am Irish, but I was born in England.”

Ah, road maps: they lead you anywhere and everywhere. You can always trust them. And they always turn out just right in the end. All you have to do is follow that one straight line for page after page and never deviate from it. Ask the RAC: they will tell you.

 

Tigger’s Return

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Tigger’s Return
aka
Recrossing the Rainbow Bridge

I opened the car door. He ran across the parking lot,
jumped into the back seat. “Where have you been?” I asked.
He thumped his great tail, sniffed, and licked the hand I held out.

We drove back home with his head thrust between the seats,
his paw on my shoulder as he licked my ear and my face.
I pulled into the garage and let him out of the car.

He raced to the road, surveyed the neighborhood,
and drilled an invisible hole into the snow. I whistled.
He ran to the door, whimpering impatiently.

I opened it and he bounded in. “You’re home now,” I said.
He ran to the cat’s bowl, lapped some water, scoffed her kibble,
and curled up under the table in his usual place.

At night, he lies beside me, a fluffy spoon carved into
my body’s curve. Each morning he walks through the kitchen
and doesn’t make a sound. The cat bristles and hisses.

He’s sitting beside me now, head on my knee, as I type.
I haven’t told anyone that he’s back. They’d think I was mad.
It’s good to have him here even when nobody else can see him.

Limpet

 

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Limpet

… like a limpet at the sea side
she clings to her inner rock
as the incoming tide
causes waters to rise,
threatening
to sweep her away.

A wind charges
over the bay,
brings a wave-surge,
white water, urgent,
crashing against rocks.

Rock-face
showered and shocked,
the little limpet
clinging on,
knowing that this
is the way
limpets survive,
from day to day,
from generation
to generation.