Snow Blossoms



We wanted it , we grumbled that we had to endure a “green Christmas” and now here it is.  Snow…. It is inconvenient.  It is tiresome to shovel and search for parking spots.  The veranda roof of the floor above me has just the right slope to ensure that great chunks of snow and ice will crash down without warning. I envision the mail lady draped on my steps, having been cracked on the head by a large block of ice.  And yet….and yet, there is such beauty all around me because of this inconvenient, messy, uncontrollable snow.  So, I had better make the best of it, open my eyes and take pleasure in what the snow gives me.

Go to sleep, Garden


The picture above shows some primrose leaves happily greening up on Christmas Day.  You can see some spear-like iris leaves too.  This is what plants get up to if snow comes too late in the year.  I never really understand how iris survives at all.  Its rhyzomes are so close to the surface and yet they are among the first  to set out green leaves after months of frigid temperatures.  The picture on the bottom is of a pot of lavender I neglected as it sat on my balcony.  It got a bit of a snow dusting but I am sure it will be alright.  After all, I totally forgot about it for the whole of last winter.  It sat without a drop of water for,the cold dark months and when I was doing some spring clean up I almost threw it out.  Then I noticed a tiny green leaf and gave it another chance.  In summer as I passed, I would crush a few leaves and enjoy the profound serious smell of fresh lavender.  It will stay in with the other plant pets…a frangipani, a jasmine.  In spring they will be miserable shadows of their old selves, but still alive and ready to make a come-back with the right temperature and rainfall.

I bought a ( gently) used car yesterday.  It was a bad day to drive home through the thick fresh snow.  I had been quite prepared to drive my little red pirate into the ground but I had a good deal dropped into my lap and obeyed the voice of reason.  I was very attached to my red car with her chipped bumper, souvenir of ambitious parking attempts that didn’t quite work out and her rakish dimple of a dent on her right fender.  Poordarling.  She will live  out her days as a pizza delivery buggy.  Old age is hard, even for autos.

My new car is black and perfectly maintained.  She boasts 8 brand new tires.  There is a little memo on the windshield that tells me,when she should be serviced.  She only knows the hallowed halls of the dealership.  I gunned her home through the clogged roads, flung her into a half-legal parking spot under an orange plough notice and left her all night in the frigid darkness.  Fate had dealt her an unknown card.  Plants, cars, people…..adapt to winter or perish.



Christmas Music



Something  wonderful about the organ played in a huge basilica filled with people.  There is in the deepest notes a call to the gut of the listener.  The huge and rather ugly modern space is filled with many people.  There are people who come for the spectacle, the music, the marking of the day.  There are others who come with sincere faith.  They were easy to spot last night.  They knew the responses in the service, they knew when to stand or sit, they held up their hands and sang or recited at times.  There was a feeling of the Middle Ages at some moments.  When the huge choir came up the main aisle and everyone instinctively stood in silence.  The service was sung by celebrants, who to my taste, were a little too concerned with their ” performance” but when the choir sang, the body responded.  You can’t make the hair on your arms rise.  It just does when the moment is right.

A strange Christmas.  Most of my family overseas, going to a,strange midnight service at the request of my beloved daughter, running out in the cold air afterwards with not a flake of snow as we hailed cabs in vain.  A different but wonderful experience.  I know I am privileged to have it and look forward to the next one with anticipation and love for the season.

Dome in the Mist



Misty Christmas

confounding our image-driven idea of

what this holiday

should be.

Clammy, bone-chilling fog,


mystifying mist, blinding cloud

coming down .

Wrapping a scarf, buttoning a coat,

pulling a cap down over the eyes.

The chilly fog fingers insinuating themselves,

Looking up and out from the little parapet,

searching for the settled dome, the solid curve


Crackers and Santa Clause and plum pudding

all submerged in a flighty, uncalled-for

cloud of winter fog.

Will choirs surrender to it?  The notes


melodies tangled in the soft white

cold nothing of mist.

Misty Christmas, welcome  mist,

swaddling us, binding us in mystery.






Illuminating the city



A green Christmas means no shovelling, walking around in our regular shoes, skipping the gloves and scarves.  It’s not all good though.  It is terribly dark.  Evening starts  at 3 pm.  I finally figured out that having no snow means that light is not reflected.  The trees their leafless branches silhouetted against the dark stone building, stand sad sentinels  all the short day long.  People are certainly making an effort though.  As I walked up a solemn street in the Plateau yesterday, I was happy to see someone had decided to lighten things up a little.  I wonder if he comes out late at night and lights candles in his hanging chandelier.