IV

Valanya ~ Friday

Producing rolling eyes and large sighs, winter has grabbed us again. Last night the temps plunged into the single digits and early this morning, the thermometer announced an unbelievable eight degrees F. At just beyond the noon hour, the temps are still hovering at 21 degrees F. Snow fell during most of the night, although at this moment, insolation is occurring and there is steam rising from all of the streets and sidewalks. While during the deepest night, the reflective rosy blush told of falling snow, and dawn brought with it the icy blue-ness of a very cold morning.

I am somewhat surprised as it is almost the first of April. Often we have snow even into June, however the very cold temperatures are usually a thing of the past. Many of us who have lived around these parts for a long time are surprised but we persist in continuing on, taking the climate as part of living in the high mountains of the northern Rockies. It is not a place for the “faint” of heart. But we all take the good with the bad and realize that there is no other place we would rather be. It truly is a land of contrast; extreme cold during the winters and searing heat during the brief summers. Although, I must admit, at this very moment I long for warm breezes and the color of flowers. Just the thought of green as far as the eye can see, brings a smile to my face.

A friend (in my knitting group) just returned from a trip to Portland. She described much beauty evident in many kinds of flowering trees and shrubs. Everything was green and lovely. There were a few of us gathered together, staring with big eyes, and wondering why it is that we all live in this harsh climate. Later, I mused and wondered if we lived immersed in such loveliness, would we take it for granted and not notice the beauty around us? Perhaps, enduring such long and cruel winters truly enables us to enjoy beauty, in whatever form it may make itself known. Living with a good thing all of the time would not provide the contrasts needed to showcase many different kinds of beauty. Methinks that appreciation comes with some degree of deprivation.

With the approach of April, my heart sings. My entire being relaxes and cold, stiff muscles slowly unravel and become loose. Hopefully, misty rainfalls and serenading robins will make themselves known. Taking deep breaths of crisp spring air, I will most certainly rejoice.

May you wallow in your many blessings ~ Tasarwen

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III

Elenya ~ Saturday

March has long been the month of “melt”. Recently, I have been tromping around my mountain town, jumping over small areas of snow, and slowly finding my way around areas of mud. Water is seeping out from under large piles of snow, running across parking lots, and pooling in yards. I have yet to see green grass, but I have noticed a slight swelling at the ends of tree and bush branches.

Three days ago, a heavy snow fell upon us. As I crept up the stairs, on my way to dream the night away, I felt the soft embrace of being cocooned. Snow piled up and surrounded us, providing insulation against any amount of noise. This feeling was not unlike an experience I had in San Francisco. We traveled there about three years ago for a harp conference and stayed in a lovely hotel, downtown. I was up, padding around in the middle of the night and happened to peer out of the window. Great clouds of fog surrounded us, holding us suspended between land and sky. I felt as if a large wad of soft, gray wool had quietly spread itself around us. Peace flowed over me and the rest of the night passed in pure tranquility.

There is a humorous sight to behold these days. In parking lots around town, there are very large piles of snow that are the result of snow plows having pushed snow aside. Where ever there are garbage dumpsters (containers), large ravens and crows have staked out claims. They are very territorial about the dumpsters and do not tolerate any newcomers to the snow pile. These large black birds are very noisy, be it cold or balmy. It appears to be a play on “king of the mountain”. The largest of the birds sit on the highest part of the snow pile. I am intrigued, primarily because for the life of me, I can not figure out how they do not get cold feet. However, the ability to stand for long periods of time in snow must be common among birds. I have witnessed ducks standing for hours on the top of ice covered ponds and geese standing in snow in wheat fields. I am envious. I am inside a warm place and still have to wear socks and fleece slippers.

Early spring in my high, mountain realm always brings with it heavy, moisture-laden snow along with thaws. There is the tug-o-war between winter and spring. Winter still loves to make sure we know that it is the stronger season, however the gentleness of spring wins in the end. Without winter knowing, life begins to make its appearance known. Warmer days sneak up and take winter by surprise, bringing relief and happiness to those of us who have had to endure those short, dark days. The anticipation of change seems to bring smiles and most folks seem happier. Methinks the additional sunlight precipitates a cheerier spirit.

May the freshness of a new season bring lightness to your heart ~ Tasarwen

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II

Valanya ~ Friday

The hands of winter, that embrace those of us who live in the high reaches of the Rocky Mountains, have tightened their grip this week past. What started as two heavy snowfalls have ended with sub-zero temperatures and wind. We were teased with promises of the sweet days ahead and with a quick knife-edge turn, winter briskly returned, all the while grabbing us and keeping us trapped within its icy claws. With great longing, I peer out between those icy claws, wondering when the fragrance of the earth will return. At this moment, my nose is frozen, and all senses are suspended. However, I have a feeling of blessing about me these days. For the sun angles have increased and even though the temperatures are well below freezing, there is melting going on. Moisture is appearing everywhere, running hither and yon.

Being an artist, musician, and writer, I live a solitary life. There have been moments in the past whereby I was greatly bothered by living as a hermit. However, after being out in the busy world for a short time, I am always relieved to retreat to my quiet life.

afghan

Just a short time ago, I joined a knitting group. Though I knitted many years ago while in college, I am now a crocheter. Even so, the ladies (and one man) in this group have fully accepted me with open arms. They meet once a week at a local bookstore, which happily is within walking distance of my little abode. While sipping on a latté, I listen to discussions about many sorts of subjects. There is the warm and cozy feeling of being within a yard of hens (and one rooster), softly clucking away. The hum of conversation and laughter brings about a certain contentment. As I walk back home, across the parking lot, I always smile and am glad that God made this group known to me. For I truly consider it a gift to be able to join these knitters every week.

At this point, I am crocheting a large afghan full of snowflakes. Methinks that I am becoming a tad bit goofy. For the life of me, I can not figure out why I would create something that is reminiscent of winter. I am not a winter person. However, I do love the shape and variety of snowflakes. This project probably will take many months to complete, but the joy truly is in the journey and I love the process of creating something large with my own hands. The movement of the crochet hook, back and forth is soothing. The rhythm tranquilizes me and my mind floats to the farthest reaches of space and time. Knitters mention this same phenomenon. Indeed, as I watch some of my new friends knit socks of a great variety of colors and patterns, I am tempted to return to the world of knitting. Time will tell and if I continue to feel the pull, I may take it up again. Those socks are intriguing, to say the least.

As I look at the calendar, I realize that we are now at mid-March and the fifth month of winter. I am reminded that without the contrasts, what joy is there in life? Without the valleys, there could be no hills. Without the seas, there could be no rain. Without apprehension, there could be no relief. In this life, I move back and forth between the chatter of friends and the quiet of my personal space. Change continues.

May you be aware of the balance betwixt and between. ~ Tasarwen

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I

Eärenya ~ Thursday

March has truly roared into my realm like a lion. Yesterday afternoon, while I was sitting and crocheting in a local bookstore, I noticed a darkening of the sky. Within the hour, large snowflakes began to fall. They were beautiful as seen against a dark gray background. I was mesmerized and time quickly got away from me. Before I knew it, snow started to pile up. I was jolted back into the “real” world and realized that I needed to return to my “nest”. Quickly, I scooted next door to a yarn shop, purchased some yarn for a project I am currently working on, and drove home through a heavy curtain of falling snow.

As evening approached, my world turned white. Snow continued to fall through the night and when I awakened this morning, all was the color of blush and there was a hush about my realm. Normally, I jump out of bed and get on with my day. However, this morning I took a “snow day” and pulled the covers back over my head. It was a great pleasure to have a leisurely morning and accomplish some chores that have stacked up. It seems as if I manage to get easily distracted and unfortunately, some house chores get pushed aside and forgotten.

This afternoon, I trudged through heavy snow on a walk-about and thoroughly enjoyed the pleasures of fresh air and bright white. My realm got flocked with puffs of snow, piled high on every tree branch and fence post. It looks fat and fluffy, but actually, it is quite heavy. As I pushed a snow shovel through it earlier in the day, I grunted and groaned. It is the perfect snow with which to build a snowman. Misty memories came back to me, of a time long, long ago when I did that very thing. Slowly, I pushed a large ball through the yard, collecting coating after coating of snow. Lo and behold, after I had pushed a second ball that was a bit smaller than the first, I discovered that I had to place this ball on top of the first one. I remember standing there trying to come up with a way to do this and the light came on. A ramp would do the trick. So after pushing with every inch of my life, up a large piece of plywood, the second ball rolled. Of course, the third ball had to be placed on top of the first and second ones. I made this one small enough to pick up and place on top. The moral of the story? It is not wise to start with a first ball the size of a large boulder. Small snowmen look mighty fine, especially when they are all dressed up with a hat and a scarf.

It is difficult to believe that spring is right around the corner, but there is a different feel to the air. It is heavy with promise and the scent of earth is pervasive. We have turned the corner, leaving the season of deep winter behind. While there are a few weeks of wintry appearances surrounding this high mountain realm in which I make my abode, the change is just barely beginning. The anticipation of it is intoxicating and exciting.

Every season has its loveliness and I enjoy them all, however this season of experiencing the beginnings of new life is my favorite time of the year. Soon, very soon, each day will bring along something new to observe. The diversity of color and fragrance is wonderful to witness as it unfolds and it is a gift, but only if I hesitate enough to appreciate the phenomenon. I am always gently persuaded to put aside the busyness of my own life and observe the busyness of life surrounding me.

May you not miss a moment of miracles ~ Tasarwen

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