Not yet

It is not yet
Spring
Again
And so
The turtle is still submerged
The snake has not stuck out his head
The birds still fret and know
It is not time to make a nest
No
It is not spring
And yet
One notices
The days are getting longer
The wind is from the south
The cat is at the window
Watching
The squirrels begin to play
Along the fence as if to say
Begone you winter day
And though
The trees are brown and bare
I know it in my bones and heart
I know it as
I walk by my closet
And leave my coat inside

squirrel-nuts

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What will the New Year bring?

What will the New Year bring?
Hopefully boundless joy, loving family and friends, few cares and an abundance of God’s blessings, then it helps to have a nut or two to tide you through the winter days, an adventure that lets you venture somewhere you’ve never gone before, and, at the end of the day, a thought to keep you warm in bed, may there be peace on earth.

 

I heard the bells

winter-2

Christmas Day, 1863, Washington, D.C.

 

Outside his window on Christmas Day, 1863, Henry Wordsworth Longfellow heard the Christmas bells and the carolers singing “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men”.

That cold December day he was in Washington, D.C. called to the bedside of his son who, less than a month earlier, had been wounded in the shoulder at the battle of Mine Run Campaign, the follow up to the Battle of Gettysburg, and an unsuccessful attempt by Union forces to defeat the Army of the Potomac near Chancellorsville.

 

The north wind blew fierce that day in fitful gushes that banged the shutters on the windows that were not secured. The carolers, attempting to dispel the gloom, pulled tight their winter coats and scarves, their voices accompanied by sleigh-bells from horses making their way to their appointed destinations, and in the air one smelled a mixture of sweet egg-nog and the stench of death.

Worried, disconsolate, and inspired, he wrote these words:

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

vermont-farm

Wassail

Cheers!

If I said, “Wassup!” you’d know what I meant, but what about “Wassail!”

Wassail has its roots in ancient Norse, it rhymes with lass and hail and means “be hale” or “be of good health”.

The word entered the English lexicon in the 5th century with the Saxons, Hengist and Horsa, who came to help the British Celts fight the Picts. Horsa died fighting and Hengist stayed. The story goes that Hengist’s daughter Rowen offered British King Vortigern a golden cup filled with wine, saying,

“Lord King, Wassail!”

The word was new to Vortigern, the wine was pleasing, and so too was Rowen. They marry and the next thing you know, Hengist is the very first king of England, or at least of Kent, where the Saxons and their cousins the Angles settled down and became English.

By the time the Normans arrived centuries later, Englishmen were wassailing each other with a cup of wine. The habit was hard to break. Time changes words and their meaning and wassail was remembered as the spicy hot wine and not the salutation.

Sometimes a glass of wassail will start you thinking. What do other countries use for toasts?

In France they say, Bonne sante. The French being the French and very idiosyncratic don’t pronounce the first e and accent the second “e” to make the long eeee sound.

In Spain and the Spanish speaking countries of the western hemisphere, they say “Brindar.” Literally, meaning “offer” but that doesn’t express the thought, which is a hope that the recipient of the toast may receive all that is good and necessary. Brevity, the mark of a good toast and good sense.

“Expresar un bien deseado a alguien o algo a la vez que se levanta la copa con vino o licor antes de beber.”

In Russian, they say “Prosit!” but they say it Cyrillic, просит, which is hard to say, and means nothing more than, I beg or pray.

In German, they also say, “Prosit” or “Ein Prosit” which translates as “Cheers!”

But they made it into a song, which everyone sings at Oktoberfest and when wishing one a schönes Neues Jahr:

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit.

Cheers, my friends, it all means the same, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

forest-couple-1280

Whose woods are these

stressless recliners, fairy tales can come true

I dare not leave these woods quite yet, something lurks up above, something lingers behind a tree, waiting just for me

… in these woods, lovely, dark, and deep.

I cannot sleep for from the distance in the woods comes a sound, “Who?” it calls mocking me. I dare not answer, my knees are knocking, teeth chattering. Am I scared?

You bet.

Then, I hear a branch crack, needles crunch, and I have got a hunch from the woods there comes for me a dark and hairy beast. Should I run, should I grab a great big stick, or, should I fall and make a tiny little ball? Then, I manage in a tiny voice to call out, father-mother are you there?

Silence, says my father, go to sleep.

forest-sun

My candle burns at both ends

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
Edna St. Vincent MIllay

edna st. vincent millay eyes

Friday already, and I haven’t done half of what I need to do. That is life in the digital age.

Time out!

Edna St. Vincent Millay died at the age of 58, the result of a heart attack after a coronary occlusion. She was dressed in a nightgown and slippers when her body was found by James Pinnie, a caretaker, (who cares?) who had arrived to light a fire for the evening. “Miss Millay,” as the New York Times called her, had lived alone in her home in the Berkshire hills of New York, close to those same hills that James Taylor sang of (he lives there), since her husband died ten months earlier.

The Times continues to say: “Miss Millay was born in Rockland, Me., on Feb. 22, 1892, in an old house ‘between the mountains and the sea’ where baskets of apples and drying herbs on the porch mingled their scents with those of the neighboring pine woods.”

She had friends, she had foes, she acted, she wrote, she lived in The Village, she escaped to Florida, the Riviera, Spain, and finally, she escaped to Maine.

She was, the Times continued, “a frivolous young woman, with a brand-new pair of dancing slippers and a mouth like a valentine,” young, red-haired and unquestionably pretty.

What we remember is what we choose, ’tis the pity, she was much more.

My choice…

Figs from Thistles: First Fig
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

For this and other poems, Millay won the the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923.

Friday already, and I haven’t done half of what I need to do.

millay-poster

Tolkien Variations

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
Hands that touch warm the heart
Such is the nature of love.

Tolkien Variations

forest-couple-1280

All fall down

girls_boy_tree

Do you miss those golden days of summer yet?
How we danced around the tree,
Thinking then,
It would never end,
Holding hands
Singing merrily,
Faster and faster
And as we did
The dog ran about,
Prancing to and fro,
Then I,
As leader of the group said,
All fall down!

Ah, but children grow older.

Then, a few years later,
You looked into my eyes and said
“I love you, do you love me,
And will you love me forever?”
I, recalling those foolish days,
And golden days of summer, I

Laughed and said,
“Nothing lasts forever.”

In memoriam

 

 

In memoriam: Las Vegas

Mother, mother, sister, brother,
Father to us all,
Children one and all
Tell me why
They’re gone
Mother, sister, father, brother
Tell me why
It’s not the time
To stop this madness
Tell me, if you can,
Tell me why you’re gone

Charlie, Brennan, Erick, Quint, Neysa, Dorene,
Pati, Nicky, Chris, Andrea, Adrian, Brian, Brett and Bo
Denise, Chrissy, Candy, Lisa, Rocky, Jordy
Austin, Laura, Dana, Carrie, Tom and Jenny

Is that not enough?
To me its more than plenty
I like a poem that’s short

Kurt, Jack, Sandy, Angie, Jenny, say it twice,
Bailey, Susy, Rachel, John

I am not too fond of saying this
Guns are killing us

Tara, Calla, Jessie, Jordan,
Haven’t I heard this one before,
Chris and Carrie and Carly,
Can’t you see the insanity
Of doing nothing, nothing at all
And saying let us have our fun
Rhoda, Lisa, Bill and Sonny, Denise, Steve and Cameron,
And finally Heather,
Oh, but it is not final
Because you’d rather keep your guns

And when you
You know who
Lay down your head upon your pillow
Say your prayers,
And bless those fellows who died for us, for you
Think of this
Let’s lay down those guns
That keep killing
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers
And the children who are our future

From Nevada:
Charleston Hartfield, Brennan Stewart, Erick Silva, Quintin Robbins, Austin Meyer, Neysa Tonks

From Alaska:
Dorene Anderson, Adrian Murfitt

From Arizona:
Brett Schwanbeck

From California:

Pati Mestas, Nicol Kimura, Christopher Hazencomb, Andrea Castilla, Brian Fraser, Derrick “Bo” Taylor, Denise Cohen, Christiana Duarte, Candice Bowers, Lisa Patterson, Rocio Guillen Rocha, Jordyn Rivera, Austin Davis, Laura Shipp, Keri Galvan, Hannah Ahlers, Stacee Etcheber, Michelle Vo, Victor Link, Melissa Ramirez, Kelsey Meadows, Dana Gardner, Carrie Barnette, Thomas Day Jr., Jennifer Parks, Kurt Von Tillow, Jack Beaton, Sandy Casey, Angie Gomez, Jennifer Irvine, Bailey Schweitzer, Susan Smith, Rachel Parker, John Phippen

These lovely souls,
So young, so fair
Called off by earthly doom,
Just came to show how sweet a flower
In paradise could bloom

From Canada:
Tara Roe Smith, Calla Medig, Jessica Klymchuk, Jordan McIldoon

From Colorado:
Christopher Roybal

From Iowa:
Carly Kreibaum

From Massachusetts:
Rhonda LeRocque

From New Mexico:
Lisa Romero-Muniz

From Pennsylvania:
Bill Wolfe

From Tennessee:
Sonny Melton

From Washington:
Carrie Parsons

From West Virginia:
Denise Burditus

From Wisconsin:
Steve Berger

From Utah:
Cameron Robinson, Heather Alvarado