the cold outside the warm within

we took a little walk around the farm on Christmas Eve. it was so cold the air was almost blue. the bitter wind blew, and occasionally we had to stop in a shed or the barn in shelter. the kids seemed unfazed. little A. wanted to make snowballs and follow rabbit tracks, while R. played with the old wagon wheel. the barn kittens hid from us (or, the wind) and I found Christmas colors among the old implements. we checked the frozen pond, looking for the fish that had frozen to the top. I managed to keep A. still long enough to get a shoe shot & per usual her colors were the brightest. we felt the air in our bones. inside we had cinnamon rolls and coffee to help us feel warm.
the kids performed in the Eve service. we sat in one of the oldest Mennonite churches in the Midwest, sang, and ended the night warmly with candles lit and thoughts above & within.


a few days in Kansas

mom's Christmas cactus in bloom
candles and a piece of Taos

we are home from Christmas, in which we visited our families in Kansas. we had mostly sunny drives, with only few patches of snowy roads. and the bitter winter wind that greeted us in Kansas disappeared into the sun by Christmas Day.

in a whirlwind we saw our parents, my brother's family and many of our good friends. we ate many cookies, cinnamon rolls, zwieback and we had a special Faspa. and overall it felt like a good holiday for both of us. 

and now comes the time of reflection. the end of the year, the start of another, and all the importance we place on this change in the cycle. I definitely need a list, of things to let go, of things to think about moving forward, of things I want from this new year. but I know the list doesn't need to be huge, there is nothing so large to tackle, mostly I just want to focus on my each new day and what comes, what may.


friday - Rijksmuseum

Winterlandschap, Willem Witsen, 1885-1922

Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters, by Avercamp 1608

This is artwork from the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch National Art museum in Amsterdam. (The museum encourages people to download images & use them as desired...a slightly different take from other online museums.)

Winteravond, Ede by Willem Witson, 1870-1923

Winterlandschap met melkmeisjies, Anton Mauve, 1848-1888

Winterlandschap met schaaters, Adam van Breen, 1615-1620 

De Newa bij Sint Petersburg in de winter, Theodor Hildebrandt, 1844

 (The images here were all found under a search for "winter".)


raven wing & apple tree

in the snow, a mark of a raven's wing and an apple tree. 


Taos & farolitos

Taos has a tradition of light. It is famous for the light of the sky (clear & bright) which has caused artists to come visit, & then just stay. It is also known for the glow of the farolitos around Christmas-time.

Taos Plaza

The farolitos (little-lantern or little-fire) are placed along sidewalks, on rooftops, line adobe walls and at front doors. Traditionally (from the 15th-century Spanish who settled here) they are meant to light the way for the Holy Family, helping guide them to a safe place. They are sign of welcome & celebration. And their warm, soft glow decorates the town.

Easy to make, a brown paper lunch-bag, a bottom covered in sand, with a votive plopped in the middle.  Currently, our grocery store has boxes of these "cathedral-style" votives on special display. 

Many people now choose to use the electric farolitos (plastic bags on a light string) and these are sometimes referred to as the fake-o-lito or electro-lito.

On the snowy, clear nights, with the smell of pinon & juniper burning from stoves & fireplaces all through Taos, the glowing farolitos combined with a twinkle of christmas lights, help create a festive atmosphere. 

Here in northern New Mexico, we call these farolitos, once you get south of Santa Fe, these are called luminarias. This may be explained as how once actual, small lanterns were used as farolitos, and when they were replaced with paper bags, most people began calling them luminarias. But northern New Mexicans are stubborn when it comes to change, in just about all aspects of life, so they keep using the word farolito. Though some like to mix it up, and just call them "bag-o-litos".

They are lovely. And mixed in with the traditions of eating posole on Christmas Eve, baking biscochitos and going to Taos Pueblo for Deer Dances on Christmas Day, the farolitos are another symbol of the deep & historic culture of Taos.


a day of La Senora

Today is the day of La Senora in Mexico, it is a day to pilgrimage & celebrate La Nuestra Senora de la Guadalupe. Also know as the "queen" of Mexico, she is seen as a keeper of the poor, and a healer of the sick, & a destroyer of evil. 

Speaking in an Aztec language, an apparition of a young girl appeared to a man named Juan Diego, in 1531, just outside Mexico City. To prove herself as La Virgencita, she made Castilian roses grow on the hillside, which Juan Diego then took to his Archbishop. The rays of light that surround her are meant to be that of the sun, symbolic of the power of god she brings with her. The stars of heaven adorn her blue mantle. (Much of her image/story was meant to attract the native people of Mexico away from their ancient Aztec-related religion).

I'm not a Catholic, but have long been fascinated by the color, mythology and deep rituals of the Catholic faith, especially that of Mexico. Representations of La Senora are embedded in the folk art of Mexican catholicism...and folk art is the work & the voice of the people. I love it when I see it, and often take photos of pieces that capture my eye. 


cold air

though we spend a lot of the year with snow & winter, it rarely gets as cold as it has been. it is an unusual place (for someone who grew up with relentless winter skies) in that we get a lot of snow, and we get a lot of sun, but rarely have to suffer the grey fog of winter. which is how I comfort myself when I think of the months ahead. but in these recent single-digits, everything overnight goes into a dead-stop. 

it looks like next week we will get back into the 30s, with some sunny days. they will seem a relief.


see in the snow

it just didn't snow as much overnight as it was forecast. so we took another walk today, with flurries falling around us. everything was a little slick & the temperature so cold. but we had long underwear on. 

stopped to say hello to the neighbor's goats. they have to run a full field to see us, and don't always want to. and are always disappointed when we have nothing to feed them. but, we like to say hi. I smile at their big bellies. they are well-cared for, las cabras. 

the white contrast of the snow brings out the darks. I kept seeing patterns in the rocks. and taking pictures. at one point, when I stopped to photograph something, he stopped, putting his hand on my shoulder and asked gently, "now what does she see?" this question of his showed understanding of me, and to me sounded just like "i love you".

it did snow all afternoon. but now, as the sun is beginning to set, the sky has cleared in patches. so I've seen a little blue brighten up the place. I hope winter isn't too long this year. 


by the snow

we took a walk this morning up our backyard mountain. a big snow is coming in, and I wanted to get a walk in before snow fell high enough to cover our boots. the path is muddy, from melting/freezing every day. the deer had been on the path recently. we walked in their prints. and now, looking out our west window, I can see the snow coming up the valley.

as I commented on how the landscape looks different with so much having died down, D., commented on how it all looked in the cold blue/grey light. 

libby has moved her naps to a wool blanket on the couch. my moccasin slippers no longer keep my feet warm, and I've changed to a pair that is lined in lambswool. 

Water, is taught by thirst.
Land--by the Oceans passed.
Transport -- by throe --
Peace -- by its battles told --
Love, by Memorial Mold --
Birds, by the snow.

-Emily Dickinson


december starts

the opening seemed to go well, it was quite busy. i'm curious, but also not, as to what I've sold so far. 

I put out a few holiday decorations. Since cutting down a live tree isn't an option in this household,  we've instead put up a large Aspen branch, which we'd found fallen in the forest when cutting wood once. D. put it up for me, and I decorated...keeping it simple. enjoying the silver ornaments, red ribbon and the one blue peace dove. 

thinking about gifts, making & buying. thankful for the sunny days which help our house warm up. expecting snow again soon. looking for a job, and motivating/brainstorming what else I could do to give myself a job.

the mornings are hard. it is cold, and with our thermo-insulated curtains down, the bedroom is dark. Libby-the-cat paws at my face sometime after 6am, because she's ready for me to get out of bed. I think about how so many people are capable of doing this every day, so I get out of bed, put on my slippers and a sweater, and head to the living room. Then I have to decide, do I start the coffee or the fire first? And soon, after both of these things are taken care of, the sun starts to peek into the house.