Now that we all have the garden put to sleep for the winter, the hoses drained and put away, the leaves taken care of in whatever manner we have chosen, the tools oiled, sharpened, and neatly stored (I know some of you must do this admirable work but I never seem to get to it!), it is time to turn our attention to winter.
I have ambivalent feelings about winter. I, unlike many people, do not mind the cold or the snow. It is the time of year that I get to be in my studio all day if I want and I enjoy being in my house. But I greatly miss working outdoors in the gardens and when it is time to begin this work again, I am ready to go!!
And then there are the holidays….
Christmas was my mother’s favorite time of year. As a girl during the Depression, on a farm in Nebraska, Christmas was a meager affair. So, as an adult, she enjoyed it maximally each year with cooking, baking and decorating. I enjoyed it with her, sharing in the traditions she established. After she was gone, though, it took many years to establish traditions that were meaningful to me and my family.
Since there are only two of us, I have never felt good about using a real Christmas tree even though trees are grown for this purpose. My husband had an artificial tree literally drop in front of him off the back of a truck one day as he was driving in Brooklyn. He could not get the attention of the driver, so this tree came home with him and has become ours. In the world of artificial trees, it is one of the ugliest and most unrealistic ones I have ever seen; it looks like green bottle brushes on a pole! It works for us and saves another real one for you folks with children.
One of my husband’s grandfathers made small houses to hang on the tree and place under it. We have now, for many years, made little houses with each other and with friends during the Christmas holiday. We make them out of cardboard, matches, pinecones, twigs, paint and glitter. We have so many that there are now several miniature villages that spring up in our house at Christmas. We have added tiny snowmen, animals, greens, decorated trees, wreaths; there is even a miniature greenhouse!
Thirty years ago this December, a friend and I started making cookies together; the kind that need to be rolled, cut and decorated and are a lot more fun to make with someone else. Very shortly, we were joined by other friends. This happy group will meet again this next Sunday in a kitchen in Brooklyn to make our cookies. Each person brings dough and we all roll, cut, decorate, drop and slice all of the dough which, at the end of a long day of baking, merriment and reminiscing, yields mountains of cookies to share.
I especially like the lights at this time of year and have noticed that many houses keep them up long past New Year’s. It reminds me that the diminishing sun for people in the past was enormously significant and that the increasing sunlight after the winter solstice was the promise of future crops. The trees and plants hold this promise in their buds and seeds that, with the arrival of the spring sun and warmth, will be fulfilled.
For gardening discussion call Jeanelle Myers at 631-434-5067.