The First Evening of the New Year: Quiet Blessings Live On in a Journal

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                                                                                                                                            Every New Year’s Day, I have followed a tradition from my grandmother and mother of opening up a new and fresh journal filled with welcoming pages for events, thoughts, poems, memorabilia and daily musings. This evening was no different. My 2017 journal is now filled with what came our way each day of the past 52 weeks. There are many good things that filled this journal and some not so great. We weathered them and came out on the other side of each one. Some are still in progress such as having a nephew still in South Korea serving his country, grieving off the loss of a sibling, and new baby on the way for my nephew and his wife and a wedding in the coming year.  The good things outweighed the bad although with the world the way it is, the way our country has become and the way natural disasters made a swath of tragedy in the West and South did not take away daily quiet blessings. Often, it was sometimes hard to see quiet blessings prevail, but they did. At times when it becomes a struggle to see light, we must create our own. I hope I have. Whether it is a lighted snow village on my dining room table, or helping a young writer with her dream to write, light comes through little by little-and it endures.

In the dark days of winter that are coming, we have memories of all the good, and the light behind them. I can only say this: That everyone has done their hardest and their best. The love here among us all stays and stays strong.  This is the most important  New Year’s intention or as some call it resolution that truly matters to me. It is not on a to do list to be accomplished…it is ongoing. Quiet blessings and welcome to a new year and a new light in 2018.

Enjoying Christmas…for a few days more

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“There is more to life than increasing its speed” -Ghandi

It has been a busy and exhausting couple of months. Losing a family member suddenly and without warning brings life to a sudden stop. Everyday tasks, schedules, work responsibilities and other commitments come to a grinding halt. You persevere, forge on and take care of what needs to be with the best you can give to such situations. But this is not what this posting is about.  It is about enjoying Christmas for a few days more.

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Christmas was just two short days ago and already I am seeing social media postings about taking down the tree and putting all decorations away. It is no different that seeing the same kind of postings in November only the opposite-who is getting their tree up and putting lights on the outside of homes. My first thought was this: “Why can’t we enjoy Christmas for a few days more?” It all comes to a finality on December 26th. Yes, it is done, over with for another year.  And then I read the quote above by Gandhi and wonder why the rush to take it all down? I do realize that it is necessary due to personal preferences and time constraints. Two years ago, Christmas had to end for us on December 26th as a emergency kitchen floor renovation needed to begin on December 27th. And it was depressing, I will admit to see everything packed up and done for another year.

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You see, I live in a small town nestled against the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I live where the biggest star in the world ( historical fact) shines from the Saturday after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. It’s light shines for miles in all directions. The Bright Star of Palmer Lake has shone each holiday season for 82 years. (Please see about the Star in the book titled ‘Bright Star of Palmer Lake’ available on Amazon.) It does not shut off on December 26th just because Christmas is over and neither does my Christmas lights.

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Photo by Aaron Jurka, Mountain Tapestry Press, LLC

I want to extend the memories of Christmas for just a few more days. Yes, they will be held in our hearts and minds for years to come. I want the quiet moments of drinking cups of tea and become absorbed into a new book that was a Christmas gift. I have no need or desire to do post-Christmas sales. But this year, it is the moments of memories that were made by family and friends that I do not want to rush away.

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In the closing days of December and all of 2017, quiet reflection and slowing down for a few moments can do wonders. There is time to pack up Christmas and turn to normalcy but I don’t want to hurry it up just because others are doing so. In the poem “Waiting for Christmas”, I believe I convey the quietness of the winter season:

A Walk in Wintered Woods

Almost evening, the winter sunlight fades

through darkened aspen and pine.

The tranquility of two white tailed deer

grazing through snow is interrupted

by the creaking of branches in a brisk,

twenty degree December wind.

The silent flight of a hawk disappears;

only to pop back into my view as it circles

over the mountains blanketed in thick, quilted snow.

There is no path here; the wintered woods

lie ahead in deep shadows.

I stand still listening to this land call out

its life to me; the woodland loner now

warmed with the peaceful wonder of falling snowflakes

upon my Christmas mittens.

Christmas Dawn

This poem, written and published in my first poetry collection titled ‘Journey On: Beauty and Grit Along the Way, is accompanied by a translation into Latvian.
 

Christmas Dawn 
 
I awake in the Christmas dawn light; 
a shimmering snowfall 

echoes upon the mountains. 
Through parted curtains,  

my curious eyes follow 
a shaking of snow 

from pine needled branches. 
 
An opera of sun slowly takes over; 
erasing long blue gray shadows. 
We lie under the soft warmth 

of the red plaid comforter, 
meeting the moment  

of a gentle and tender us. 

 
 

Ziemassvētku Ausma 

(Latvian) 

 

Es pamostos Ziemassvētku ausmas gaisma; 

spīdīgs sniegputenis atbalsojas kalnos. 

Ar šķīrušiem aizkariemmanas interesantas acis seko 

sniega raupšana no priedes adatas zariem. 

 

Saules lāva pārņem opera; 

dzēšot garas zilas pelēkas ēnas. 

Mēs gulējam zem sarkanā pleds mierīgā siltā siltuma, 

satikties ar maigu un maigu mirkli. 

I am greeting September with a quiet poem for my readers. The bustle of summer is now past. Here in Colorado our mornings begin with chilled autumn like temperatures. Spots of orange are appearing on the scrub oak and the aspens are tinged with golden on their tips of their leaves. So now make a cup of vanilla almond tea, settle in and read from the Journey On Collection Listening for My Name. I thank you for reading my words.

 

Listening for My Name

 
You returned with mysteries forgiven
a gentle cover of darkness surrounded
me with the wonder of anticipation.

You became yourself once more
someone long forgotten, this time promising
never to be lessened by fear again.

Inner stirrings beckoned for you
beneath my hidden need.
And then, you began to give
while I began to take with delicious breath.

Beyond the window pane the rains fell,
the thunder moved in from far off distances.
You gathered me in like fog clinging to a river,
refreshing sleep whispered this gift
as moonlight drifted through brushed away clouds.

In the quiet days and nights of winter to come,
I will turn to you,
and listen for my name.

I Stop the Questioning

Before February gets by us, I want to share this poem about a moment in time filled with an enduring memory.  As the snows falls and the wind blusters by, a woman with her warm comforts of tea and a charming music box from Germany fills her afternoon…

 
Each February I remember the fragile note,
kept safe in the music box imported from Germany.
Unfolding the faded and creased parchment,
I read his words in soft murmurs
while waiting for the old teapot to whistle.
My aging hands are cold and less nimble;
but my mind fights the weathering years.
Scrawled in pale blue ink, he wrote:
 
“My dearest valentine
I beg you, live well and laugh often.
Bouquets fade and dry,
Godivas digest,
ahh…but love…love…
think of me and smile.”
 
I gently refold each crease and put away
the only thing he left me.
Still, I ask myself each year since his passing,
were they written out of guilt or obligation?
Sipping Earl Grey tea on this bittersweet afternoon,
it was easier to believe in love.
 
What is a wintry day in February like for you? Can you identify with the woman in this verse?  Your thoughts and comments are most welcome!  Thank you for reading this posting of I Stop the Questioning.

 

Late Afternoon in Early Winter

The wood stove fire burns slowly,
warmth seeps into ridges of a red fleece blanket
that adorns my shivering shoulders.
Outside the snow softly falls,
swirls of silver and white cover
autumn into bare branched silence.

North winds howl,
white tailed deer scrape snow on their tongues
on a late afternoon in early winter.
Caught in high country silence,
I sit and wonder, will we ever dance together again,
one more time embrace
the soft rustlings of our mountain love.

The late afternoon begins to dim;
Night fall trails and gives way to the gray violet of snowy dusk.
I listen for your voice to echo down the high country ridge;
a gesture of your long awaited return home.
Outside the mountain settles into an early winter,
the deer and I wait for December snows to end,
and the passes to clear,
and embrace the pale glimmer of morning.