This Anticipatory Time
...Bits and Bobs, Books and Thoughts...
For the past few years in my town, autumn has been a bit of a dud. The leaves of the oaks and poplars stubbornly refused to change into their garments of fire and simply turned a dun-colored hue and let go of grey branches to fall in great uninspiring heaps in the gardens. Even the maple trees, usually the undisputed stars of the show, sat out the festivities. But this year has been different. Perhaps sensing we need them this autumn more than ever, all over town the trees have risen to the challenge magnificently and dressed themselves in a brilliance usually reserved for fairytale illustrations. Their beauty has transformed the most pedestrian of errand runs into a journey through Aladdin’s cave.
It’s been colder, earlier. Fires have burned in the grate for many nights already. And on an evening last week, last week (!), I saw a Christmas tree twinkling merrily in a neighbor’s window. Normally, I would add my voice to those tut-tutting about it being much too early to stick a toe in the festive season, but this year…. well, this year I totally get it. If ever there was a year when we all need more than the usual dose of comfort and joy, this is it. For myself, I’m still busy getting ready for Thanksgiving. The menu is written; mincemeat is being made today. But on Thanksgiving night The Songwriter will switch on the lights that encircle the tall evergreen tree that stands watch by our front porch and I’ll hang a fragrant wreath on the door.
This year we once again look to the holiday season for warmth and light, even as the world seems colder and darker than ever before. This is the season of hope and I intend to participate with enthusiasm, sharing as much of that hopeful light as I can. So in that spirit, here are a few ideas and thoughts for this anticipatory time. A few books to read, and maybe to wrap up as presents. A new movies to see. A few thoughts, a few ideas. Even some emerald green shoes. Please share anything special of your own in the comments below.
And love to you all!
I’ve been doing a lot of reading by the fire recently. Also reading under layers of quilts in a warm bed while owls hoot outside my window in the dark. Also, reading at restaurant tables and in passenger seats of cars. I’ve never mastered the art of reading in the bathtub, but in a more concentrated effort to get to all the books I’m dying to read just now, I might give that a try soon. Here are just a few of the books I’ve read lately, and some I’m looking forward to.
by Anthony Horowitz
The Christmas Chronicles
by Nigel Slater
by Mary Oliver
The Antlered Ship
by Dashka Slater
illustrated by The Fan Brothers
An Almost Perfect Christmas
by Nina Stibbe
The Way Home in the Night
by Akiko Miyakoshi
2. Knitted Love
I finished knitting the sweater above just before I left for Scotland. I’m in love with the stag design in the cables, as well as the colour and the fit… but the real reason it is now my favourite sweater is that when I cast it onto the needles Edward was curled up beside me on the sofa. I’ve no doubt a bit of his fur made its way into this sweater and therefore I was wearing it on a sunny day last month when I buried a bit of that white fur on top of Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa. A very special memory.
If you’re not a knitter, but you’d like an authentic Scottish knit of your own, check out THIS SITE.
I also love THIS ONE for winter.
3. Giannetti Clothing
A lot of you know the gorgeous Brooke Gannetti from her blog, Velvet and Linen. I’m happy to say that along with her husband and son, Brooke has embarked on a new clothing line that looks utterly scrumptious. Just take a look at that cashmere duster above.
Find it HERE.
Oh, and be sure and take a look at this wonderful baby blanket.
4. New Movies
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: I am lucky in my friends. One of those friends, in addition to being thoughtful, beautiful, funny and creative, is a bit of an expert on England in the Second World War. I have had the privilege of accompanying her recently to lectures on the topic and have found them illuminating as well as fascinating. There is truly, as Ecclesiastes tells us, nothing new under the sun. If we are determined not to heed its lessons, history will most certainly repeat itself till we do.
In that vein, I am looking forward to these two new movies with relish.
Perhaps you are too?
5. Holiday Shoes
When I was in London in May, I found the most perfect pair of black suede heels, the sort of heels for women like myself who refuse to slide their feet into anything painful. The same shop now has the a charming pair of emerald green shoes, perfect for holiday dinners and parties.
I mean, emerald green shoes!
Find them HERE.
It’s no secret that I adore scarves, my sartorial style stops just short of Isadora Duncan for safety reasons only. One of my favourites is a large honey-colored creation which features the a full-length portrait of Oscar Wilde. Of course, when its draped and knotted around my throat it’s like a private secret; no one knows it’s Oscar, his visage is hidden in swirls of soft colour.
Photographer Mary McCartney (yes, sister of Stella, daughter of … well, you know) has just released a line of beautiful scarves, all reproductions of her photographs. I adore the dancer above. Like my Oscar, she would totally disappear into blues. Love it so.
Find it HERE
8. Holiday Tins
I do a lot of baking during the holidays and am always on the lookout for pretty new ways to package these gifts.
Being a fan of William Morris, I’m crazy about these tins.
Find them HERE.
9. Edward Speaks at Midnight, A Christmas Story
I never really realized when I wrote Edward Speaks at Midnight what a treasure it would one day come to be for me. Orders have already begun and books are being shipped out for Christmas. It makes me so happy to know that once and forever Edward will be a part of so many holiday seasons.
Order your copy HERE.
St. Conan's Kirk, Scotland
And Finally, A Few Thoughts on Faith
As a person of faith, the past few years have been painful in the extreme. I have watched in horror as America’s white evangelical church resolutely aligned itself with our current president despite his every word and deed being antithetical to those of the Christ they profess to follow. With each new atrocity, I wait for that support to disappear or, at the very least, wane a bit, but am disappointed every time. A friend recently said he has ceased calling himself “Christian” because of what that word now means to the vast majority of Americans. I sympathize and understand.
In crossing so many lines of decency and truth, humanity and love, this new version of christianity has made a liar out of Christ. Perhaps it’s past time for this question: “When does such a stark difference in basic beliefs, values and practices actually become a different religion? For me, the answer is mighty close to ‘now.’”
Those last two sentences are from a particularly cogent article recently written by another friend of mine. If you’ve thought at all about this issue, as we enter this holy holiday season, you might like to give it a read.
Find it HERE.
See you soon,