On the inside, watching the snow fall on the outside. Putting a rather impressive dent in the Christmas knitting list. Putting a tiny dent in Operation Basement Clean-out (I swear I did some work on it, you just can't tell). The Christmas tree.
My Oma's recipes have been pulled out and the house smells of baking, the wreath is on the door and the advent candles are ready to light, I'm listening to Christmas music as I write this, there are lists everywhere – lists of what still needs to be baked, lists of things to be done, lists of things to craft and make...
... and the parking lot of the church down the street is in the midst of it's yearly transformation into Bethlehem. The sign out front reminds us how many days are left until the outdoor pageant begins, a most definite sign for many folks around here that Christmas is coming, yes it is!
With my studio area currently under renovation the sewing machine has been packed away for the past few weeks. The studio is not quite finished yet, but it's finished enough that Jeff was able to bring Elna up from the basement and with a dusting and an oiling, an affectionate little pat and a whispered "hello" for my lovely gal, she was put straight to work.
Although I'm itching to do some fun knitting (a new winter skirt and a long sleeved shirt or two would be just lovely) I did restrain myself and went directly to the practical sewing. I must say, it did surprise me how quickly the mending pile grew in those few weeks. My goodness!
The first thing (after attacking the mending pile turned Mount Everest) was to make a draft stopper for the front door. I used some wool fabric that I'd found at the thrift store, cut it in a rectangle (40" x 9"), folded it in half, seamed it up (leaving one short end open), and stuffed it with dried navy beans (just because I happened to have a large jar of them on hand). The short end got sewn up and voila! – a draft stopper. Take that, winter wind!
Next up was some sewing for the barn.
The barn in winter, well, let's just say it gets pretty darn cold. Bundled up in my "barn clothes" (boots, hat, scarf, mittens, jacket, wool socks, wool long johns, wool undershirt, another two shirts on top...) I feel like Ralphie's brother from A Christmas Story ("I can't put my arms down!"). The only problem remaining is that cold bench that us parents sit on in the riding arena. If I'm lucky a barn cat will come and curl up on me, keeping my lap toasty but that doesn't help my poor, freezing bottom. The solution, I decided, was a woolen pillow to sit on.
This one is made using a wool sweater (again, from the thrift store) that I shrunk and stuffed with some llama fleece. Right now, it waits by the door with all the other riding paraphernalia until it can be tried out next week.
With the last red berries And the first white snows.
With night coming early, And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket And frost by the gate.
The fires burn And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest Until next spring."
I always feel like November is a settling in month – it brings with it such a bundling up and "hunkering down" feeling. The area rugs are on the floors, the heavy blankets are out, woollens are most certainly in full use, and the heat is on.
Meals are those lovely kind that occur when you go down to the root cellar and come up with ingredients that simmer away on the stove top all day. There is almost always a soup in the blue pot. There is tea every morning. There is candlelight with dinner every evening.
Books are being devoured, projects long forgotten in the warm summer sun are now brought out and worked on, and in front of the fire is now the place to be.
Soon it will be first advent and along with it will come the excitement of the season but for now we are cozy, bundled up inside against the changing weather, and leisurely enjoying November.
"But what if I could see the familiar world as if I had never seen it before, even if I see it every day – with that wonderment and surprise? Or see it as if I would never see it again? Then imagine the glory. I'm thinking it's a paltry sense of wonder that requires something new every day. I confess: Wonder is easy when you travel to desert islands in search of experiences you have never imagined, in search of something you have never seen before, in search of wonder, the shock of surprise. It's easy, and maybe it's cheap. It's not what the world asks of us.
To be worthy of the astonishing world, a sense of wonder will be a way of life, in every place and time, no matter how familiar: to listen in the dark of every night, to praise the mystery of every returning day, to be astonished again and again, to be grateful with an intensity that cannot be distinguished from joy."
(Kathleen Dean Moore, from "Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature")
One final visit out to the bee yard before winter.
There was a bit of sun yesterday but it was cold enough that the bees were already inside the hive forming their cluster. In fact, the only time I even saw any venture out was when I was needed to put a couple of nails on the outside of the supers. The hammering had them curious and a few of the guard bees poked their sweet little heart-shaped heads out the door to see what on earth was going on.
The mouse guards are on, the feeding is done (something I didn't think I would do at first, but I did end up doing a fall feeding of Rudolf Steiner's bee tea as I felt they were a bit weak and needed a boost), the hive is now full of bees and honey, and I've put their winter wrap on.
Good night, ladies. I'll see you in the spring!
(P.S. For those that are asking me – Year One sting count: 1)