muffled steps outside

johnbauer-in-the-christmas-night
“In the Christmas Night” by John Bauer

The snow is lying very deep.
My house is sheltered from the blast.
I hear each muffled step outside,
I hear each voice go past.

But I’ll not venture in the drift
Out of this bright security,
Till enough footsteps come and go
To make a path for me.

~ Agnes Lee
(The Second Book of Modern Verse:
A Selection from the Work of Contemporaneous American Poets
)

embrace all living creatures

“Harmony of Creatures”
by Margret Hofheinz-Döring

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe;” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
~ Albert Einstein
(Mathematical Circles: Mathematical Circles Adieu & Return to Mathematical Circles)

midsummer memories

6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
the setting ~ 6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

We had a midsummer party Saturday night, but the pictures I took did not come out well. So I’m going to “cheat” and use pictures from last year’s celebration, which will seem new to my readers because I didn’t have this blog back then…

This is the fourth year my sister and I have done this, and it keeps getting better. All year long we toss around ideas. We got started doing this, I think, because we are both nature lovers. And because we have a little Norwegian heritage and my sister once lived in Sweden for a year. Our adult kids have come to love it and look forward to it just as much as Christmas/Yule. This year we had 17 friends and family attending, a very nice size gathering.

In the first picture, my brother-in-law and Bernie pause for a moment before the decorating begins. The picture is taken from the front yard, looking down one story over tiered stone walls leading down to the side yard. My parents built this house themselves about 1960. My father built the stone walls after we moved in. My brother-in-law installed the patio much more recently for our midsummer parties. Last year my sister found some nice wooden folding chairs to replace the green plastic ones pictured here. Little improvements here and there…

6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
woodland garden

My brother-in-law does the gardening now. He doesn’t use chemicals or pesticides – it’s so naturally beautiful.

Last year we managed to get Dad outside for a little while. The year before that we actually got him to whittle some sticks down for the kids to use to roast marshmallows. But this year he was too fragile to jostle around across the lumpy terrain  in his wheelchair. I’m not even sure how aware he was that there was a party going on. I was hoping he would catch a whiff of his blooming chestnut tree (it didn’t bloom last year…) but he didn’t say anything about it. When I asked him about it he seemed so confused that I didn’t press him any more.

My sister, my daughter and I have been using pretty beads to decorate glass balls that hold floating candles. The effect is so enchanting after dark. Some of them shattered the first year we tried it, so now we’re using fishing line instead of wire to string the beads. The wires wouldn’t allow the glass to expand from the heat of the lighted candles. It’s hard to get good pictures of them, though!

6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
gnomeland security

The summer breeze was blowing on your face
Within your violet you treasure your summery words
And as the shiver from my neck down to my spine
Ignited me in daylight and nature in the garden

~ Van Morrison
♫ (In the Garden) ♫

Another highlight of the evening is the arrival of a bottle of frozen vodka! Preferably from Norway, but this year we settled on one from Iceland. We give it to my brother-in-law ahead of time and he freezes layers of flowers and water around the bottle. It’s so pretty to look at and then we drink shots using my sister’s cobalt blue glasses, which only come out of the corner cabinet twice a year!

And finally there is the fire. We roast marshmallows and make some-mores. Play with sparklers and glow sticks with the little ones. Blow weird bubbles with magic bubble wands. Swat at the mosquitoes that make it through the citronella and the smoke. We always say we’re going to stay up all night – it’s supposed to be one of the shortest of the year – and greet the morning sun, but we have never made it much past midnight. Following are some more pictures…

6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
Dad’s beloved chestnut tree, all dressed up
6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
granddaughter and grandfather sharing a rare moment outside
6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
frozen vodka extraordinaire
6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
candlelight floating in decorated glass balls
6.21.09 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
firelight