New Year’s Day, 2014.
I eat toast slathered with translucent red crab apple jelly that glistens like a stained glass window through its home in a tiny mason jar. It’s a Christmas gift from a daughter who found it in upstate New York and mailed it four states away because the red jelly gleamed so beautifully in the sunlight.
Will the sun shine here today or will the cold North Wind lock it away behind a cell of bitter gray clouds? It’s been cold for days and days and weeks and weeks and soon we’ll whisper “months and months” as our lips slowly turn blue and our feet freeze in our heavy winter boots.
OK, OK, I exaggerate, but only because one week ago we luxuriated in 55 (12 C) mid-afternoon temperatures on the red clay soil of Georgia. We fished out lawn chairs from the garage at Barry’s parents’ house and turned our faces toward the sun and remembered the joys of Vitamin D and uplifted sun-kissed spirits.
We counted fifty robins, escapees from the North Wind, who all flew to the Drue backyard and celebrated Christmas in relative warmth. We delighted in the brightest of chippy blue birds who sang of New Year and hope and possibility. We admired gray squirrels, and flickers, and a pileated woodpecker who clinked his beak against a southern yellow pine and dined on burrowed insects for his holiday dinner.
We did not see–but heard tales–of a full-antlered buck who guarded lady-does in the backyard as they rested, pregnant, on that deep red Georgia soil, which is not the same color of red as the crab apple jelly which gleams up from my toast.
I roasted chestnuts in our wood stove on Monday, oh yes, the day after our plane landed back in Hancock on an icy runway with wind blowing sideways and the thermometer grinning evilly at 2 (-16 C) degrees. Have you ever roasted chestnuts in an open fire, as the holiday song croons? I have never, and so bought the sack of hard-shelled brown chestnuts at the Keweenaw Co-op, and among teasing, scored them, wrapped them in aluminum foil, and awaited their pop-pop-pop as the shells loosened their grip upon the inner yellow smoky core.
Of course, I did not hear pop-pop-pop because the wood stove motor hummed too loudly, but some time later retrieved the chestnuts and shelled them while injuring two fingernails.
Musing: if the wood stove is closed, can one insist they roasted chestnuts on an open fire? Perhaps it would be more accurate to say the chestnuts roasted in a fire. Period.
Minced roasted chestnuts into teeny tiny pieces and added to brown rice laced with salt and we ate a soothing Monday-night dinner (with fresh green salad) attempting to balance the last three weeks of celebratory merry-making with some simple fare.
It proved much work, this chestnut roasting. Perhaps it’s traditionally accomplished during the holidays with family members around to participate together in the shelling and tattered fingernail fun.
Whilst in Georgia, our daughter-in-law, Seunghye, (and her sous-chef, our son, Chris) created the most delicious Korean dinner for the crew to sample. I shall show you a family photo. (Barry, too, will print this family photo is his newspaper column this week about our traveling adventures. The adventures involved dire weather-related forecasts which attempted to thwart every step of our plane flights, but never succeeded.)
As for resolutions, my only resolution (she said, resolutely) is to not make resolutions. I want to celebrate the wild creativity of life itself! To open this heart in compassion to whatever presents itself. To not close down in fear or nervousness or sadness.
OK, those sounded suspiciously like resolutions. Let’s back up and try it again. I want to celebrate the wild creativity of life itself! Whether it comes in the red of crab apple jelly, a Korean feast, freezing cold, the red of red Georgia clay, icy runways or chestnuts roasting in an open fire.
Happy New Year to you! What are your new year thoughts, resolutions or stories?