Christmas in Florida

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It seems like every year for Christmas I set the intention to give handmade gifts, and most recent years that hasn’t panned out for one reason or another. Lack of time, or more honestly, lack of planning, is usually the culprit. But this year, I had so much fun making all-natural rosemary soy candles for gifts that it might become a regular hobby. I know, I know, routine and regularity are not often in my vocabulary, but the fun I had with these might just make these an exception to my battle with predictability.

Tommy and I flew down to Florida for the holidays to see my family. We got to spend time with my spunky-as-ever 97-year-old grandma, an avid antiques lover and trader, who has taught me, among countless other life lessons, to honor the life of every timeworn piece. I grew up in her backyard (literally, in a tiny house my father built there), so her home holds layers of my childhood memories, like the yard stick glued to the door jamb that has my brother’s and my growth chronicled in penciled inches; or the towering grandfather clock that used to chime on the hour (and now chimes, it seems, whenever it wants to, sometimes for minutes at a time).

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In the lazy days that followed our Christmas celebrations, we indulged in catching up on reading and drinking lots of coffee.

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And for us, Florida vacations, no matter the season, mean that holy trinity of sun, sand and water, where Tommy and I have both discovered that we feel most clarity and calm. In Sarasota with my dad, we kayaked through mangrove tunnels, walked in the surf, bird-watched, and of course, ate fish and chips.

Back at home for New Year’s Eve, we wrapped up our year quietly, at home, with a bottle of wine andย Holiday Inn (one of my favorite holiday movies to date). We’ve got adventures planned for 2013, which I’ll share as they take shape, and I’m so excited the year has begun!

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Winter Garden

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Tagging along with Tommy to the community garden today, I ย admired the strength of lifeย in the midst of winter.

ย I particularly enjoyed:

1. playing with ice blocks frozen around the hoop house, enchanted with how they distort and soften, how they reflect light.

2. the contrast between life still pushing through and the surrounding decomposition.

3. feeling gratitude for the harvest made possible by Tommy, and the meals we will cook with it this week.

What I noticed there made me think of this poem:

The Fog Town School of Thought

They should have taught us birds and trees

in school, they should have taught us beauty

and weaving bees and had a class

on listening and standing aloneโ€”

the children should have studied light

reflected from a spider web,

we should have learned the branches of streams

spread out like fingers or the veins

of a leafโ€”we should have learned the sky

is the tallest steeple, we should have known

a hill is a voice inside the skyโ€”

O, we should have had our school

on top and stayed until the night

for the fog to bloom in the hollows and rise

like cotton spinning off a wheelโ€”

we should have learned a dreamโ€”a child’s

and even still a man’sโ€”is made

from fog and love, my word, you’d think

with the book in front of us we should

have learned how Fog Town got its name.

โ€” Maurice Manning

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