"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gifts, Parties, Decor, Light & Warmth

Yesterday I met a friend in Portsmouth for breakfast. It was a lovely ride across a snowy landscape. Arriving at the Great Bay bridge I found the line of demarcation for snow and no snow--on the other side lay Newington and the Port City, and it was green grass everywhere!

My meet-up location was Cafe Espresso, famous as the place where Hilary Clinton got choked up and teary on the eve of the 2008 NH Primary, which she proceeded to win. And the campaign went on and on and on.

From the cafe I went to Fox Run Mall, where I found many bargains (and lots of other shoppers) and successfully ticked all remaining the boxes on my shopping list. I also walked off the delicious Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict that I'd eaten earlier.

December 11 was a red-letter day--actually, a black-letter day: the 1-year anniversary of the never-to-be-forgotten Worst Ice Storm Ever. Two inches of ice coated all surfaces, trees snapped, power lines broke, electricity was out for days or weeks, depending on your location. Oh, and we then had single-digit temperatures. And no furnace.

I don't really like remembering how I lay in bed under mountains of blankets for 5 days, watching the flames dance in the bedroom fireplace, getting up to feed the fire or light candles or (while shivering) heat a can of soup over the stovetop (gas-fueled, thank God, and not electric!) or boil water for a sponge bath and shampoo. I proved my hardiness--just barely--but now know that I'm not enthusiastic about 17th or 18th or 19th century New England living. December days are short. It gets dark early. Really, really dark. And cold--did I mention the cold? Let me illustrate.

Before the storm hit, as a precaution I'd filled our Jacuzzi tub with water, assuming if we lost power it would quickly be restored. I never imagined how long we'd be deprived. Or that the mercury would plunge. Or how extremely cold the inside temperatures would get. Cold enough to kill houseplants. Cold enough to freeze the water in the tub!

Although these days mark an unpleasant anniversary I mean to make the most of the luxuries of light, heat and water. I've turned on the tree upstairs. The furnace is humming. And I plan to fill that tub all the way up today and enjoy a good long soak with the jets on. Because I can!

I'm also celebrating the fact that we now have a generator:

This is a quiet work day for me, a prelude to days of parties. Two tomorrow, one in our neighbourhood and one at a friend's farmhouse. Two more on Sunday--one church and one state, and I think we'll only do the church one. Some are casual. For some I will Dress Up. On Tuesday, after a continuing education session, the House of Representatives has its holiday party.

The temperature was in the teens this morning but indoors it's spring-like. My white azalea is about to bloom. I've probably had it for a decade at least. It survived the ice storm.

So did this little camellia, sporting a single flower bud and new leaf buds.

A traditional holiday gift we send to others is a wreath of partridge berry. Growing up in a very different part of the country I'd see elderly black women selling the berries on a downtown street at Christmas time, and my mother always bought some to decorate the house. There's a florist here in NH who has created partridge berry Christmas wreaths for many years. A New England relative sent one to us on our first married Christmas in Colorado. Eventually we bought more for ourselves and also sent them. As we did this year.

Partridge berry grows here on our property, but I've only ever pulled it to use in terrariums (terraria?). Back in September, while walking the dogs at the lake cottage, I came upon a huge patch of it, and the vines were loaded with red berries. I was inspired to pull up enough to make a wreath myself to decorate the Lodge. Which it has been doing for almost 3 months now.

It's not as beautifully done as the ones the florist makes, but I love it because it's my own handiwork and a reminder of the other house and the many lakeside strolls during other seasons.

The dogs and I are hibernating in our downstairs sitting room this morning. The sofa faces the big fireplace and mantel...where our stockings have been hung with care!

I hope you and yours have a happy, festive, warm and bright weekend!

No comments: