Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas cookie time

This morning, early, there was no need for a flashlight while walking the dog. Full, full moon occurs tomorrow. This morning it was only full. How often do you suppose the full moon occurs on Winter Solstice? The Farmers' Almanac has a list. Yesterday and today I had the honor of helping to get several packages of Christmas cookies sent to various locations around our country. That's usually a sign that holiday preparations are almost done and the madness is winding down. I'm happy to vouch for the fact that there will be some very lucky cookie recipients sometime soon.

Two kinds of Christmas cookies
my favorites                 © harrington
While driving through the light snow on my way back from a meeting in St. Paul, I stopped at the Forest Lake library and requested a copy of the book for next month's Art book club reading. For January 2014 (do you believe that, 2014?) we're talking about Maya Angelou's Gather Together in My Name, the second volume in her multi-volume autobiography. I've been very pleasantly surprised with the breadth and depth of the discussions that have centered on, but not been limited to, the content of the two books read thus far. The discussions have been almost as good as Christmas cookies.

snow flake sugar cookies
snow flake sugar cookies       © harrington
Good coffee, good books, good conversation and good cookies make for a great Christmas as far as I'm concerned. (It doesn't always take four "goods" to make one "great." That's just the way it worked out this time.) Speaking of good books, Braiding Sweetgrass goes somewhere beyond good in my mind. Robin Wall Kimmerer has some wonderful concepts on what it means to be indigenous and an exploration of what it means to be "naturalized" if not indigenous. Since I've long admired Wes Jackson's Becoming Native to This Place, it's encouraging to see a new perspective on how we can develop better relationships with the only home we have. Speaking of home, did you know sweetgrass is native to Minnesota (although, apparently, not to Chisago County), and, in fact, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Mille Lacs Indian Museum are offering a sweetgrass basket workshop this coming April. That goes on my list of possibilities for next year. If you work it right, and don't get greedy, you can manage to have bits of Christmas all year round (but Christmas cookies come only at Christmas). In honor of my very own Christmas elf cookie baker, I want to share Noel by Anne Porter.

Santa, holly, and Christmas tree cookies   © harrington

Noel


When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they're cut down
And brought into our houses

When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows

We hear and sing
The customary carols

They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common

But there are carols
That carry phrases
Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet's message

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies

Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices

They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.  

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Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily (and sometimes Christmas cookies).