Evening, 31 December, 2021

Weeds that crowd in on my flower plantings are evergreen through a Kentucky winter. 
Pansies have self sown along the edge of the raised bed by the front steps with a few popping up in the grass beyond.

Mornings are so slow in December, the effects of the solstice not evident until mid January. The sun, when it condescends to rise, does so in the south-east coloring the sky beyond the ravine.
The weather has had an uneasy feel, daytime temps in the 60's F, nights seldom falling below freezing. Clouds, pale sunshine, warm, damp air, the kind of wind that rushes through the bare treetops then dives to sweep through drifts of fallen leaves. 

Robert-cat balks at coming in after dark so I am often out calling for him, standing with arms hugged against my sides or hands thrust into the pockets of a light jacket. Waiting for Robert, trailed by ever faithful Willis and his cohort, Sally, I look up at the night sky marveling at the imagination that could form pictures from the distant clusters of stars. 

I've felt unsettled, not quite back into what passes in retirement for a winter routine. 
I read, both online and from conventional books, read until my eyes are strained and squinting. 
I've needed to prepare music and lessons for church presentations, wondering if it the time is nearing when I should bow out of those duties. 
We have tended to our small errands, avoiding Wal Mart even more than usual, choosing from what is on offer at the neighboring Beachy Amish store or the Discount Sales in the next county.
Family birthdays crowd the calendar in December and January, celebrated by 'eating out.'

Baking during Christmas week: Oatmeal bread--which J. sampled before it was cooled; a small blueberry pie pulled from the freezer; a pan of date bars which only I fancy--good with a mug of something hot.

It is lovely now to have good family cooks eager to take on much of the meal prep for holiday dinners. I am requested to produce the favorite Lemon Meringue pies.

We chose to gather for our family meal on Sunday, 26th December, at our house. The day was warm and sunny. Rosie-kitten wants so badly to help in all that I do--setting the extra folding table has to be a last minute arrangement.

New Year's Eve is traditionally a time for reflection. The turning of the calendar from one year to the next has never seemed to me a cause for noisy celebration. 
I've been sorting through old photos stored on CD's--a nostalgic undertaking that calls forth moments of sweet remembrance of times past, people--and pets--no longer with us. Memory once tapped can open the flood gates; it takes a certain vulnerability to deliberately step into the past, allowing scenes to  unfold, emotions to be stirred afresh.

I remember suddenly a New Year's Eve at our last home in Wyoming. Snow knee high in drifts around the house, wind--always the Wyoming wind, blasting down from the mountains.
For some reason I chose to bundle in layers of warm clothing, tall boots, face muffled in a fluffy scarf, to trudge along the pasture fence, flashlight in hand--checking on the old horse I suppose. I remember that she came trotting through the snow, eyes glinting, breath making steamy clouds in the circle of light from my torch.

As the early darkness has moved in on this evening in south-central Kentucky there have been several bursts of rain, a peal of thunder. The electricity jolted off and then on again; the digital clocks all needed resetting. The outside temperature stands at 64F. 
Rain and wind are predicted for tonight and tomorrow, with cooler temps expected at the beginning of the new year. 

I have started to work again in my sewing room--taking up the projects that were laid aside during November's anxious days of Covid. 
The first seed catalog arrived in the mail on Wednesday--my favorite for ordering flower seeds. 
Surely it is not too soon to dream of impossible bursts of bloom, abundant crops of vegetables. Armchair gardening at its best!

Jim's projects have included a return to filling the woodshed, the refurbishing of a John Deere tractor.
We are feeling blessed that we can meet the new year with a return of energy.