Thursday, January 17, 2013

January Days

"Laura in the Snow" by Tasha Tudor

"It snowed and snowed, the whole world over,
Snow swept the world from end to end.
A candle burned on the table;
A candle burned."
- Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago

I need a new, beeswax candle for our table. Yes, we have passed the Winter Solstice, but we are still burning our candles and huddling by the fireplace at night. A few days ago, I heard one of the girls say - though I think they've each taken a turn in saying it - that now that the holidays are past, they are ready for it to be warm again.

"Well, winter has a long ways to go yet," I said as we drove through the round-about on our way home from our friends' attic yesterday. "You have to try to appreciate January for what it IS."

Certainly, I used to think this way too; I don't think it's necessarily a trait of one who has lived years in a sub-tropical climate. No, I think it is just our natural inclination after all the excitement, to be a little let-down by the solitude of winter. I actually once even wrote a poem about winter and named it, Unfortunate Season.

 Goodness. That's a sorry attitude.

I'm sure my change of heart has to do with a number of things. One, was my "friend," Tasha Tudor. She had a love of and taught me to really enjoy the pleasures each season brings, including winter! A book of her life and work, The Private World of Tasha Tudor, is one I have owned for years and is one I treasure. It is a picture-book for adults for sure. The photographs are beautiful, the narration of the way she lived her life as well as the interviews with her are delightful (she was very wry!), her home is so unusual, inviting, and interesting, and her garden was lush! It's perfect reading for a snowy day!

Tasha Tudor with two of her darling corgis!

Two, is certainly a perspective on the present that I don't think I appreciated as much when I was younger. Every moment of time is one we will never get back; I appreciate it all so much more now.

Three, having lived without a greater vibrancy of seasons, I do enjoy their distinctness.

Four, is the knitting and other handcrafts, as well as painting that I so enjoy. I don't mind being inside so much with these pastimes when warm breezes are not beckoning.

Five, is perhaps just an excuse and opportunity to be still and to enjoy our little nests. I know that by the time March rolls around, I will be positively aching to open up those windows, only to have another thirty-one days of chill and sloppy weather staring me back in the face. But for now, there are books to read aloud and hot tea to drink, games to be played - both the board and electronic kind, together- and cooking in the kitchen with the intention of heating it up - so opposite from those dog-days of summer. There are grains and beans seemingly perpetually simmering; hot meals for breakfast lunch, and dinner; breads and biscuits often on the menu for dunking into stews regularly showing up at the table.

Next week temps will dip below 0 degrees F for the high of the day. I won't be strapping on my skates - good attitude or no - on those days, but I am getting them sharpened this weekend. I picked up a nice pair at a thrift store just before Christmas. When the thermometer shows up in the 20's again, I hope to be out there at least a couple of times before the thaw.

The temperatures are supposed to begin to take their nose-dive on Saturday. But that's okay. I'm planning a trip over to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts just to breeeeeaaathe in a little inspiration. We were there at the beginning of the school year to see the wonderful Rembrandt exhibit. I had not been to the MIA in years though, and longed to slowly peruse all of the galleries. It was not to be, however, with our group having another agenda already planned out. I knew I would be back. The timing is just right: it will be nice to get out and walk around in a large indoor facility without it being a shopping experience! The price is right: free. And the kids are opting not to come along this time which is actually fine with me. I've taken young people plenty of times to art museums - my own children as well as other children who were members of art classes I taught or just to visit. But, of course, you know how it is... delightful in it's own way and a lovely way to spend time together, but you don't actually get to spend much time with any one piece for longer than 30 seconds. I am truly looking forward to just taking my time, reading as much as I want about each piece and even spending some time with a few favorites. I love to look at brush strokes... and sometimes the sheer size of a piece is just astounding to me.

In the Studio:

Speaking of paintings, I have a new idea for one that I am excited about, having not painted much - with our move and all - since last winter when I dabbled a bit with the girls while teaching them watercolor. But I haven't done something "big", relatively speaking, in a while, so I'm excited to begin that.

I've got my new February Lady Sweater on the needles. The last one grew, since it was made of a cotton/acrylic blend. It was still lovely and has found an new home. But I really, really like the design and still want one for myself and it's a fun and relatively quick knit for a sweater. I'm doing it in RED which is a departure for me. I don't own too much red, it being one of my least favorite colors. But it's growing on me. And since it seems the majority of my wardrobe resides in the "neutral zone," I'm ready for some punch. It's likely too ambitious to think I will be done on Valentine's day, but if I can wear it once before sweater weather disappears, I'll be pleased.

I'm also working on these Longbourn Mitts for Maia from the Jane Austen Knits Fall 2012 magazine. She's been after me a while to knit something for her, so I let her pick out a small pattern and some yarn. It's a lace pattern, so it's taking a while. I can't knit it and read or watch anything while I'm doing it like I can with just straight knitting.

Well, this post has grown long enough. Next time maybe we'll talk reading! In the meantime, enjoy your January wherever you are!

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