I like to make as much as I can for Christmas – it’s fun to do, is invariably cheaper than buying and means one ends up with a unique gift or decoration.
Instead of a tree which sits in the room, this year I wanted a wall mounted one. I’ve seen pictures of trees made from wood and thought I’d attempt to make one using branches from the garden. I cut these a couple of weeks ago, cleaned them and let them dry out and finally tied them using some sisal string into a Christmas tree. Simple decorations, just some stars,warm white lights and a fairy on top – et voila! My homemade tree!
I’m on a poetry roll, so for today, as the UK is battered and blown around by gale force winds and rain, another poem rejoicing in the seasons and nature by John Clare.
The holly bush, a sober lump of green,
Shines through the leafless shrubs all brown and grey,
And smiles at winter be it eer so keen
With all the leafy luxury of May.
And O it is delicious, when the day
In winter’s loaded garment keenly blows
And turns her back on sudden falling snows,
To go where gravel pathways creep between
Arches of evergreen that scarce let through
A single feather of the driving storm;
And in the bitterest day that ever blew
The walk will find some places still and warm
Where dead leaves rustle sweet and give alarm
To little birds that flirt and start away.
I took this photo a couple of years ago on a snowy winter walk and thought it was a good accompaniment to this poem.
More poetry today! I like the brevity and succinct message of this poem by Robert Frost. I was going to post “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” but when I read this poem,”Dust of Snow”, I liked its meaning – how a single brief occurrence can lighten a dark day. I include it for all those for whom Christmas is a difficult time – I hope something will lighten your day too.
Dust of Snow
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
An atmospheric Christmas picture today – this painting, called ‘Glade Jul’ dates from 1891 and is by the Danish painter Viggo Johansen, who was one of the Skagen Painters. I like the shadowy corners of the room and the way the candles on the tree illuminate the room and the dancers’ happy faces – the effective, beautiful juxtaposition of light and dark create a vivid impression of Christmas in the late nineteenth century.
Picture courtesy of Wiki Commons
Christmas is a time when music plays a particularly important and characterful part: I like this poem by William Wordsworth, with its depiction of a still Christmas night outside, filled with the sound of music and merry-making from within.
The minstrels played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage-eaves;
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,
That overpowered their natural green.
Through hill and valley every breeze
Had sunk to rest with folded wings:
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
Nor check, the music of the strings;
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.
And who but listened?–till was paid
Respect to every inmate’s claim,
The greeting given, the music played
In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And “Merry Christmas” wished to all.
A change of mood from the 1st excerpt from the Christmas Oratorio which I posted last week – in this music, the Pastoral Symphony, we’re transported out into the fields with the shepherds, who will soon be visited by the Angel Gabriel. The reed instruments imitate the shepherds’ pipes – those strange looking curly instruments are oboes da caccia, a baroque instrument which has a deep timbre similar to the cor anglais, and in front of them are 2 oboes d’amore, also slightly lower in timbre to the modern oboe. I love the gentle and yet uplifting character if this music; truly a masterpiece.
Time for a lovely Christmas ditty, only a week to go! I know this is a bit cheesy but it makes me feel happy, so there!
Bach’s Christmas Oratorio was written in 1734 when Bach was the Cantor of the Thomasschule at Thomaskirche in Leipzig. The piece was written with 6 sections, each to be performed on the major feast days during the 12 days of Christmas. This clip is the opening chorus, which would have been performed on Christmas morning. How wonderful it must have been to be in the congregation and hear this rousing, joyful music at its first playing – truly inspirational and celebrational.
I wanted to bring a bit of rustic charm to my Christmas decorations this year, and I hit on the idea of making an over mantlepiece wall hanging using a big branch from the garden. I cut a branch from one of my lilac trees(they do need pruning!) trimmed it a bit, added some natural twine to hang it, then to decorate, a one-colour theme.
Some golden baubles, a couple of golden love birds!
stars and moon and a golden heart for happiness
I love it!
Another poem today, celebrating the beauty of winter. Approaching storms, the brightness of frost and fallen snow, and the juxtaposition of dark and light; wonderful imagery and celebration of the season, all contained in this special poem.
The Winter’s Spring
The winter comes; I walk alone,
I want no bird to sing;
To those who keep their hearts their own
The winter is the spring.
No flowers to please-no bees to hum-
The coming spring’s already come.
I never want the Christmas rose
To come before its time;
The seasons, each as God bestows,
Are simple and sublime.
I love to see the snowstorm hing;
‘Tis but the winter garb of spring.
I never want the grass to bloom:
The snowstorm’s best in white.
I love to see the tempest come
And love its piercing light.
The dazzled eyes that love to cling
O’er snow-white meadows sees the spring.
I love the snow, the crumpling snow
That hangs on everything,
It covers everything below
Like white dove’s brooding wing,
A landscape to the aching sight,
A vast expanse of dazzling light.
It is the foliage of the woods
That winters bring-the dress,
White Easter of the year in bud,
That makes the winter Spring.
The frost and snow his posies bring,
Nature’s white spurts of the spring.