As each year ends and a new one begins, I find myself becoming two different people... one busy and bright, the other quiet and still. I have come to regard the dark days around the winter solstice as the turning point of the year rather than the human construct of the first of January, and so once the glittering rush of Christmas is over I am full of the sense of slowly moving forward, of newness and inspiration and the hint of green shoots.
The week before Christmas is like the first movement of a symphony: the major key, the bright notes, the excitement, the great crash and wonder of Christmas Day... and yet hidden away in the music is the quiet song that will come into bloom in the second, slow movement which begins to break through about today... the minor key, the mystery, the stillness, the calm quiet of the winter holidays. Then, the white light of New Year's Eve, the beginning of the third movement, double forte, the resolution of the music and the season, the start of all things new... that time is still to come.
So, the busyness and bustling, the making of mince pies, the mulling of wine, the sweet sentimentality of carols and the rustling of paper and presents is over and the 'other' me is here, sitting by the fire, listening to the snow melting, watching the twinkling shadows of the lights in the green depths of the Christmas tree branches, thinking, dreaming... and reading. Finally getting a chance to catch up with my favourite blogs, the newspaper articles I've saved and the books I've been piling up for later.
There has been so much of interest and inspiration to feast on... I thought I'd share a couple of links that have caught my attention over the last few days.
I discovered the wonderfully well-written blog Spitalfields Life only recently... an illuminating read on any day of the week but especially absorbing over the month of December as we have been treated to the tale of The Death of a Linen Draper, the brilliantly Dickensian true story of a horrible murder which took place in the east end of London nearly two hundred years ago in 1811. It's in ten installments and we are up to number eight today. Do go and read it, it's as good as a novel.
Another place I would urge you to visit is this great post, which I found via the lovely Greenolive. Holly at Decor*8 asked the question "What’s the one thing you’ve read recently that has resonated with you and made you think? Why?" There are nearly 100 responses... every one makes you think, all of them are thoughtful and wise, and many lead to new paths and directions. So many talk of love and loss, creativity and perfectionism, the way that the stillness of winter moves us in different ways... it is well worth reading through them, maybe a few at a time over the holidays. I was particularly struck by this excerpt from a poem by Lynn Unger, which seems to encapsulate the essence of what I try to do each day, and why:
Come down. Try to remember
a life gentled by daily acts
of domestic faith—the pot
set to boil, the bed made up,
the table set in calm expectation
that when the sun sets
we will still be here.
Wintry favourites from Flickr: 1. Untitled, 2. 2009 Ornament Swap - garland in window, 3. Winterzeit und Kerzenschein, 4. Untitled