A big yellow school bus stopped in front of my car. The red tail-lights flashed at me, the “stop” sign swung out from the driver’s side and I stopped and waited. It was around noon. “It must be a kindergarten child,” I thought, “home from the morning session.”
I looked at the house. It was small and sad looking, with a “shop” attached where a sign told me that lawnmowers were repaired. A few mowers sat outside, for sale in the winter rain…
But, I worried suddenly, what if there is no one home waiting for this child?
Then a tiny boy made his way down the tall school bus steps and hopped to the ground. He carried a school paper in one hand. He was very little.
I feared again: what if there is no one home?
He made his way up the path, past what might have been part of a wheelbarrow, walking with small steps through the cold, up onto the porch.
Immediately a young woman opened the door. She smiled like the blue sky and summer sun of June and she greeted her child with wide open arms, missing him, welcoming him.
I was glad to see he was a rich kid after all.
I did some wreath-making. It was great. Mr. O pruned up a bunch of our garden trees, so we won’t have to duck next summer when we walk beneath them. The wreaths are made of cedar, white fir, redwood and Douglas fir– fragrant evergreens to tie onto circles, round and round, endless and forever like the comings and goings of the the seasons.
I hang the wreaths all indoors, where I can see them and smell a forest in my house. And so the wood spirits can shelter in them. Oh, today is the Winter Solstice! Deepest darkest day– a candle night for certain…
In other news, the Plant Goddess and I had Candy Day.
This is an annual event involving my kitchen, a bottle of champagne and the soundtrack from Chicago.
This year, among other things, we made marshmallows, to put in the fudge (we made that too), with nuts. The outcome is a candy called “Rocky Road.” But the marshmallows turned out to be more like silly putty, very nearly impossible to cut up, bubble-gum mallows, and for one terrifying moment the sticky stuff grabbed my hair. We laughed our way through it all (merry does not quite describe the experience) and really the fudge is pretty darn good.
Years ago we bought this nutcracker. He is German, and a carpenter by trade. A shoemaker actually I think. Every year I find him in his box on the Christmas shelf of the upstairs closet, and I wake him up and bring him downstairs to a mantle– usually in the diningroom.
I greet the nutcracker. “Happy Christmas, nutcracker,” or something original like that. He never answers, but I know he is always relieved that I remember to come for him.
When the holidays are over I take him down again, off the mantle, and rest him back in his box upstairs, and I always tell him goodbye, see you next year, and I hope to heaven that in a year’s time all will still be well enough in my life that once again I will be setting him on the shelf at Christmas.
In recent years I have brought out the Old Toys. I have a few that have endured, from three generations. I do think it is good for the toys to get to participate in Christmas — see how happy they look– and I like seeing them again.
So much left to do this week.
I told my friend Roberta that my house looked like a bomb site, with cooking and mailing and wrapping happening in every corner.
She wrote back to me : “Enjoy the chaos while it lasts. It’s a sure sign of life.”