There is a strange feeling of expectancy in the air. Snow has dressed lanes and fields, streams and woods in white garments, and fence posts wear top hats. The slate-grey blanket of snow-filled sky hangs low over the hills, if you look to it for warmth you will be disappointed. A biting wind drives snowflakes like the shepherd herds his sheep. all is white confusion, silent cold rattles my bones.
Carefully, I climb the icy stile into the lane.
As I leave the track that leads me from the wood on the hill into the valley, early dusk settles on hedges and hangs in the trees lining the lane. Below me lights appear in the gloaming, it is teatime and the little houses prepare for families to gather round the glow of the fire.
I reach my house and, as I enter, the warmth of the range in the kitchen greets me. I’ve already changed from boots into shoes and dumped my sweet smelling, green burden on the table in the shed.
I’ve been out to cut a large pile of pine branches and twigs, up in the woods, some with their cones still on them. In the next few days they will be distributed all over the house, bundled into vases and other receptacles. Soon the whole house will smell of Christmas.
Woolly gloves and hat come off, I shrug myself out of my coat and hang it from the ceiling dryer to let the last snowflakes melt. I unwind the scarf from around my neck and lean against the Aga to warm my hands. In spite of wearing gloves the tips of my fingers are numb with cold.
Benno’s eyes watch what I do. It is feeding time and he is letting me know. He’s been a very good boy, patiently waiting for me to choose what I want, instead of running off after rabbits.
Soon Beloved and I are settled comfortably, Benno at our feet, drinking tea and eating spiced biscuits and Stollen. It is the season of Advent and the little light on the table burns brightly and steadily.
It’s been a good day, there’s an equally pleasant evening ahead. A long drawn out evening, supper is to come and perhaps we’ll linger over a glass of wine, but for now I am happy to let the hot tea and cosy temperature of the room seep into my chilled bones; I lean back in my chair and rest.
Soft music, again seasonal, plainsong, Gregorian chant, medieval and renaissance music plays in the background.
A pile of books sits on the floor by my chair, all of them containing stories based on the season, which I will pick up, one by one, and study for possible items for Friko's Advent Calendar. Normally, I just read them at this time of year, every year over again, I never tire of them. Some are tales for children, some classical literature from all over the world, some are fables and fairy tales, there’s poetry too.
This year I will read them differently, choose some of the shorter ones, translate them where necessary and share them with you, dear friends, hoping that you too will derive some pleasure from them.