(Bento Box quilt, made for my mother-in-law, Christmas 2011)
I feel sort of bad about writing in my last post that I didn't much like Christmas, and I want to make clear that I had a very nice Christmas indeed. My favorite part of Christmas is December 26th, when we live on leftovers, Chex mix, and Christmas punch. We play games, and I spend a lot of time reading. This year I cast on a new sweater on December 26th with Christmas yarn from my MIL, and have been knitting on it a little bit each day. I hope I finish it before next Christmas.
So it's not that I had a rotten Christmas, just that the season in general is exhausting, and the meaning of it tends to get lost in all the errands and chores.
Okay, then, that's enough on that topic. Just wanted to say.
It's very cold outside--25 degrees at 8:37 a.m.--and our heat isn't working. We've been having trouble with it for a week. It must have gone out near dawn, as it's 67 degrees inside the house, which is just a touch chilly. Our furnace is only a year old, so it's a bit distressing that it's gone out, but I have a space heater in the room where I'm writing, and a fluffy dog snoring by my side. All to say, could be worse, but I really do hope the repairmen can figure out what's wrong. I won't be so sanguine if the heat is still off tonight!
We've had a warm fall and early winter up until now, which means our garden has stayed fairly productive--we've had lettuce, spinach, collards and bok choi since late fall. Looking out this morning, I'd say everything but the collards has called it quits. We'll plant more lettuce and spinach in February. The Man planted sugar snap seeds yesterday, so we'll have those to look forward to later in the spring.
Yesterday I ordered sweet pea seeds from Bakers Heirloom seeds. I planted sweet peas last year, but I planted too late, and by the time they started to bloom the weather turned hot. Sweet peas like cooler climes than North Carolina, but I hope that if I start them inside in January, I can at least have a month or so of sweet pea goodness outside in May.
A year or so ago, I picked up Lark's Rise to Candleford: A Trilogy by Flora Thompson, about village life in the English countryside circa 1880, but I put it down after a few pages. I was afraid of what it might do to me. I was afraid it might make me nostalgic for a past I never had and that would never come again. I feared becoming dissatisfied with my own life, with its combustible engines and iPods.
But I picked it up again the other day (I found a nice, hardback copy on the Friends of the Library sale shelf for four dollars) and decide to give it another try. I've been thinking a lot lately about trying to slow down and simplify. I've been thinking about trying to spend a little more time with my neighbors. I love the Internet neighborhoods that I roam through, but sometimes I think the Internet takes us away from our real, live neighbors, who might not be as easy to get along with as our blogging cohorts, but are still worthy of our attention.
It's a beautiful book, and I don't think it sentimentalizes village life at all. You get a feel for how hard people worked, how worn out their bodies got from lives spent in physical labor, how circumscribed their lives could be. I wonder if I'd be happy living in a small village, where books and art were scarce and where everybody knew almost everything there was to know about me. I wonder how much time I'd spend thinking about how happy I was.
When I read books like Lark Rise to Candleford, I wonder if I lived in that place, during that time, if I'd actually appreciate it, or if it's only from a remove we can appreciate something fully.
By the way, I'm watching the BBC series "Cranford" right now, and it's marvelous. It's another story about 19th century English village life, and the characters are funny and fabulous. Worth a look!