Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter Poetry

Some years I write a winter/Christmas poem to include in my holiday cards. After working with several ideas that seemed like a muddle of nothing, I decided this was not going to be a year for a poem. After all, we are expecting a new grandchild shortly. I also reminded myself that creative writing isn't all writing and revising, sometimes it requires thinking and waiting.

A few days later, in the wee hours of a mid November night, I couldn't sleep. While wandering around in the kitchen, I glanced out the window to see clouds clearing from the sky. Within a few minutes, an absolutely gorgeous moon appeared. The bright crescent rested in the shadow of the darker but visible part of the moon. Stars in Orion's belt shone brightly. Even through bleary eyes, the sight was magical. Why, I wondered, if the people of the earth all live under the same sky, can't we get along? Growing cold, I went back to bed.

The next morning I carried a cup of coffee to my desk. I looked over some old notes and definitions about light because the light of changing seasons is interesting to me. I love the contrast between the soft yellow gray November skies and the deep reds and browns of the deciduous trees. My notes didn't suggest anything other than rambling thoughts so I set them aside and flipped through a book of writing prompts. Randomly I chose one with the instruction to change forms in an unfinished piece. That is, to write a story from a poem, dialogue from an essay, or to choose a specific format for a poem. For no particular reason, I penned the word luminous down the side of a page and jotted down some words from my notes about light into a rough acrostic. Somehow the night sky and the crescent moon crept into the poem. I worked on this little poem for several weeks before it became the piece I sent out into the world. 

So I am publishing it on the eve of the Winter Solstice. (Copyright belongs to me.) Advent is the season of waiting and the Solstice, marking the darkest day of the year, is about hope for the return of light. Hanukah is a Festival of Light. Many faiths and cultures have a winter celebration around the idea of the return of light and hope. 

Luminous: A Prayer for the Season

Luna casts silver light onto
umber earth, wrapping us in a
mantle of kindness. She
illumines shadows with a
nocturne of peace, an
opus for all seasons. Then
ushers us into winter with
slivers of wonder and grace.

Peace, Love, and Light to you and yours.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Last night when the wind came up, I looked out to a bit of moon and a few stars in the partly cloudy sky. After four days of rain, the sun is shining. We prepared a little early for the holidays, so this next week I will be baking and enjoying the days. Retirement has its advantages. After Thanksgiving, I got out a few Christmas mugs and serving dishes. Another day, I hung a wreath on the front door and looked at cookie recipes. My cards are in the mail and the few gifts (books all around and a few handmade) are wrapped. Of course there are some extras for the three boys. My two youngest grandsons helped decorate the tree. The ornaments are clustered around the bottom half of the tree and I don't even care. Each evening when I plug in the lights, I am reminded of their smiles and willing hearts.

Sunday after Thanksgiving has become Christmas Quilt weekend at their house. I am happy to write that both little boys have Christmas quilts. E. has the quilt I made for my daughter so many years ago. Last January I wrote a blog post about working on a second Christmas quilt for M. I finished his quilt top in August and delivered it to a local woman who does machine quilting. Although I forgot to photograph the back side of his quilt, I will. This artist quilted a tree in cream thread in each open space and also outlined the embroidered and pieced designs. The large red border is quilted in red thread with a holly design and the narrow green border is quilted in green with a cross-hatch design.

I gave M. his quilt and snapped a few quick photos while he pretended to sleep for "just a minute, Grammy." The two quilts have many of the same designs but also a few that are different. My Texas grandson has the pieced Christmas quilt I made for my son. I haven't begun to think about a Christmas quilt for the baby yet to be born but that will be one of my projects in the New Year. As usual, I saved the coloring book motifs I used for embroidery.

Yesterday I finished the Sail Away With Me sweater for the soon-to-be born babe. Knit in pieces, the sweater required a fair amount of seaming. The buttons on the shoulder closure came from my button box. Many of them belonged to the Grandmother who taught me to knit and sew. I can't say for sure whether these three came from her projects or are leftover from mine but they seemed just right for this little sweater. Drinking hot tea with bright wool on my lap was a good way to spend two rainy days. So we are ready and so are my daughter and son-in-law, at least for their new baby.

If I don't get back here before Christmas, my best holiday wishes to all.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Begin Again

Like everyone I know, I am hugging my loved ones a little more often this season. The inexplicable violence in the world makes me want to keep them safe, warm, and loved. Right now that feels like a tall order, even for a knitter. Each time a mass shooting hits the headlines I set the news aside, then take a deep breath, walk, and/or make contact with someone I love. Then in the evening, I make a cup of tea and sit down to knit.

Last night I wondered, what if knitting were the metaphor for our communities? What if we cared for others the way knitters knit? That is, what if we realized that one dropped stitch or lost human being compromises the fabric of our communities? What if we tried to fix our mistakes? What if we cast on community projects again and again, trying to embrace the tension sometimes created by diversity? The problems are so overwhelming, I just drink my tea, knit, or escape into a book.

Still, I try to practice kindness, that is smile and speak to my Jewish and Muslim neighbors, thank the man with a disability who sacks my groceries, let the other guy into my lane of 5:00 p.m. traffic (well at least sometimes) and then knit like crazy. I finished the little baby sweater. Soon I will seam it together and knit the neckband so it will be ready for our soon-to-be-born grandchild. Last year I made mittens, hats, and slipper socks for my three grandsons and I will knit for them again soon. However, their parents are able to buy the next bigger size of snow pants and snow boots so I know they will be warm this winter. Other little ones are not so fortunate. Recently, I found the Bundles of Joy group on Ravelry. The group knits for babies and children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Last month, I sent three newborn hats knit from sock yarn scraps to the OB ward of their hospital. This weekend I knit a pair of mittens and am working on a second pair. These are very small gestures. At least, three newborns have winter hats and two children will have warmer hands.

This afternoon I am headed out for a long walk to begin again. As I put one foot in front of the other, I will take some deep breaths of cold crisp air. I will send love to my dear ones and promise kindness to strangers. Then this evening I will knit, stitch by stitch beginning again.