Fresh rosemary plucked from my daughter’s hand as she was fussing over a pan of balsamic, garlic, and honey chicken. She volunteered to cook Christmas dinner as her gift to me. She was worried she couldn’t afford to buy gifts. Her academic course load was heavy this semester, I suggested she drop her campus job and focus on classes. She didn’t need to worry. I told her I’d only accept her gift of a meal if she was doing it from the heart and not because she felt obligated to give me a gift, holidays with her is gift enough. She worked so diligently, on her feet for hours, bent at the sink, washing and chopping and peeling and searing. It was delicious. Having her here to share it with was best.
Mulling spice from the organic cooperative market. One of our new traditions is making hot mulled apple cider for the holidays — Thanksgiving and Christmas. I pick her up from school, we grab two gallons of fresh apple cider from our favorite orchard, stop by the market for bulk spices, and head home to start the holiday festivities. It’s only been two years since we started this tradition, but I can’t imagine a time when we didn’t do it, as if it’s been with us all along. Throw up a set of mismatched personalized mugs, a cold and snowy night, and it’s the best ever.
2016 is the year it all came crashing down: our belief in the systems that govern us, and the people who govern the facade of those systems. But like the tree in this photo, sometimes there’s a surprising beauty in fallen things.
During the solstice sunset, I was in the car driving with my daughter on the way home from college for winter break. I’d planned to pull over at one of the highway lookout points that provides views of the rural landscape to catch the day’s shift to night. I warned my family the night before: we were getting on the road before 11AM, returning books to the campus bookstore first thing, grabbing breakfast to go, spending no more than 20 minutes at the cooperative market to get cider and mulling spices, and getting on the road before noon to ensure I would catch sunset. None of that happened. Everything took twice as long and when the three of us got to the market, we spent an hour walking around, laughing, eating samples, and shopping for all sorts of unnecessary items. By the time we got on the road, it was sunset. Though I didn’t get a photograph of winter solstice sunset this year, any day I’m too busy having a great day to work on my art is a perfect kind of day. This is a photo of the sun setting over Scituate Harbor, the first Sunday in December.