“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


walking after midnight

the day after the day after christmas.
morning rain, gray skies.
this table by the front door.
waiting quietly for the new year to arrive, the old year to slip out the back, jack.

i was awake early enough to chase the cold morning fog - it moved quickly and was soon rain and i scurried back into the house, slipsliding inside the door, barely catching myself before falling.  the breeze-sometimes-wind and laundry kept me inside until mid-afternoon; i should clean, i told myself, should vacuum, should put away these candles, but mostly i read, and in the end decided i would keep them out until the new year tapped on the windows and said hello.  the house is ready and waiting.

i walked the dark sidewalks last night, zigzagging, following the christmas lights, letting them lead me where they would.  it was cold, the morning breeze by then a true nighttime wind, and all the lights looked like magic from far away, less so up close, but calling me nonetheless.  the cold stopped my thoughts and i just walked.  walking late, the sounds draw you - the slamming of car doors, the hooting of owls, a knock on a door, voices drifting as the door opens, gone when it closes.  the scruffling of leaves as your boots scooch through them, the fragile skittering sound they make when the wind grabs them and sends them flying.  a siren in the distance.

i listened without thinking, hands warm in my pockets, the milky sky overhead.


the day after christmas, katie and i in the jeep, backtracking behind businesses to avoid the traffic.  a young deer crossed the city street in front of us, another doe waiting on the other side.  katie wished them luck on their journey.  



morning, christmas eve day

gifts all wrapped, wind blowing cold, sun shining brighter as the day moves forward.  last night was the calling of owls and the flying of leaves and the laughter of friends.  the cat in front of the fire, a book about fairies, and finally, finally, the feeling of christmas.  the advent tree still stands, limbs all akimbo, but as of yesterday swathed in warm silver and more christmas cards, stars and hearts, brown paper loop-de-loops like we used to make in elementary school.  one of the limbs hangs over my head as i type these words, holding tight to a small glass ornament.  the cat stares at every shimmer it shimmies, and i am surprised it survived the night.

i like the idea of tree-at-the-last minute, the way it was in old back and white movies, and in the books i read as a child, ornaments and tinsel hung on christmas eve, angels getting their wings.  i like not thinking about it all the way from thanksgiving.  i'm not too old to change a habit or two, to instead begin to think about it when december rolls its way into the 20s - maybe the 21st or 22nd. yesterday i told the cat to expect something different every year.

but today?  a continuation from fall, leaves and lights, a continuation into next year.  late tonight, silence and church bells.  always, your days merry and bright.

merry christmas and happy holidays!



dark and light and wings and winter

first day of winter, 2014.

a glittery antique bird i've had forever, a lazy sad holiday time, the advent tree still the only tree i have.  i've been hanging small christmas cards on the limbs and standing the bigger ones on the table surrounding it, and i barely adjusted the wire on this bird when i settled it into place, just turning it so it has a view.


today is the last day of too much darkness.  it's chilly and gray and fits my holiday mood.  across the street, part of a tree has fallen.  the leaves are wet and brown, still not raked, and winter is here.  the year is almost gone.

this sunday morning is quiet, all the christmas lights (less and less each year) in the neighborhood gone silent.  as i type that, jingle bell cat jumps from the creek, white fur against the dreary day.  light against dark.  a sign, i think. he comes to the door, stares a hello at me, and wanders off, back to his house or my back porch.  it's all the same to him, all his.


love is not all you need, not the answer to everything, never yet in the history of the planet the answer to wars and terror, but you need it all the same.  the same with light.  tomorrow the day will be longer.  this year i missed birthdays and i didn't send christmas cards, but i bought soft light for a friend and it hangs beautifully against the night.  i (once again) have plans for new year's cards.  the green table next to my door is full of candles, all white, all sizes, waiting for the evening.  first, a walk, then the light.



advent evening, day 14. last night.

last night, pre-darkness.
i looked up to watch the beginnings of a rainstorm blow in,
and liked the way the power line hung across the sky, forming a new horizon.  

i walked just within our block, stopped and talked to a neighbor until the raindrops scurried us inside. the neighbors across the street plugged in their christmas lights, the sweetest single strands around windows, pastels and the warmest of whites all golden and peaceful, like a perfectly dressed woman who's removed that one necklace or ring that said too loud, too much.  i sat on the couch, door open, rain drizzling across the leaves on the ground, the sound of wind blowing past, rustling limbs, skipping those leaves like stones across a still lake.  i exhaled, drinking in the peace of those lights and the night. it felt like christmas eve.

i feel like a boat on the image above,
floating slowly across the calm part of the sky.   



december table for one

a corner of the house.
broken camera,
broken tulip saved from the bigger bouquet.
lunchtime. yesterday.  

this morning, fog and muffled birdsong.
later, warmth, and tonight, candlelight.  

i forget christmas is out there, waving to me from further down the calendar.  i wave back when i remember, happy to wait. i have plenty of wrapping paper.



this year's christmas tree

a personal advent poem built from things found or forgotten,
from fallen limbs and words and memories and wishes.
from what was and what will be. 
a continuation.
a ritual.
a saying goodbye and a saying hello.  

i dreamed of a hallway, long, with many doorways, the doors removed, propped against the empty walls, painted in the softest of colors, old, faded.  the dream faded also, coming back to me later in the day, reminding me of my movement past the open rooms, my glances left and right, leaves blowing past my feet, the wind behind me. before me, a rectangle of daylight.  another missing door. it seemed perfect, and in the way of dreams, the rectangle changed to darkness, moonlight spilling onto the floor.  no doubt the almost full moon of two nights ago waking me only slightly, pushing its way into that hallway.

what i know is that it will be a painting.  what i know is that closing doors accomplishes little.  if once i thought otherwise, i have changed my mind.  that hallway is my life.  i walk past those rooms of yesterday, piled full of memories i pretend i've tossed.  i glance into them daily.  sometimes i quickly move on, other times i stand at the doorway and smile.  sometimes i drop to the floor and cry myself to sleep, one hand over the chipped paint of the doorsill.  what i know is that if the doors were still there, if they were closed and locked, i would think through them anyway and the memories would be too big or too small.

the hall is longer behind me, from back there where the wind comes from, and the open rooms ahead are still empty, still waiting to be filled.  some things will appear on purpose, my own doings, but some things will surprise me, both good and bad.  there is so much i can't control, but there are places to store it all.  some rooms are small, with windows, and some are too large, bathed in darkness.  some rooms, however, are just right.


a birthday candle for the christmas tree.
inspired by a friend.
a light against the darkness for only a moment before i blew it out and made a wish.  



advent day 2, a day late

yesterday's image.
the true colors of not yet christmas, daring you to trip over them.

yesterday i did, if only metaphorically, and was in bed by 9. the day had been noisy and bright and i needed quiet and soft light. i gifted myself with both, and a read before sleep overtook me.  this morning i begin again.