Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Day 1 - A Letter To My Friends

Dear Friends,

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.

Happy Advent!




  1. I have enjoyed my visit here and find I will have to return again for tea, biscuits and conversation! Wishing you well! Cathy

  2. A great start to advent Friko - I will enjoy my daily visit I'm sure!

  3. Like a child, this is a treat I'm looking forward to each day.

  4. There's enough Christmas in this post to melt the heart of Scrooge, long before the big moment.

    We are bracing ourselves for snow. In the meantime, we're keeping warm and cosy.

  5. I, too, have a mind of winter, Friko. How I love it. For just the reasons you've set out here on your tea table. So lovely.

    I look forward to more tea cakes in this Advent calendar.

  6. friko i'm glad you let your sensitivity to this world wrap itself around this beautiful telling of a day! steven

  7. What a beautiful example of enjoying what is - using what is available - being content - appreciating the sweet routines we have established. I felt cozy and comfortable as I read this post.

  8. lovely. happy advent and may the rest of your go just as pleasant...

  9. What a beautiful story of your day, Friko. This is fit for a storybook itself. I think I will come to your house for Christmas. The spiced biscuits, Stollen, wine, and tea are very tempting. Happy Advent!

  10. Oh Friko, what a beautiful letter. I want to be there with you, coming in from the biting cold to a warm fire. I can create that here, too, I remind myself.

    I'm looking forward to reading your Advent posts. Old stories are some of my favourites.

  11. Dear Friko what a wonderful thing, a letter from a friend. It so warmed my heart and echos the way HH and I feel and spend most of our time and evenings. Just enjoying being sheltered, safe and warm and having each other. I have advent material e=mailed to me each day from the dear Sisters of Nazareth and it is such a grace filled time. Thanks for adding to my joy at this time of year, and all year long actually, ole gal.

  12. I loved reading this. The warmth seeped right into me.

  13. I love your writing Friko and always enjoy my visits here.

  14. I can't imagine a cosier post for the first of December.

  15. Dear Friko,

    Thank you for your letter. How wonderful to get all bundled up, and to take that walk with you as the sun set over the snowy land. I wish that you had let me carry some of those branches, but know it would not have been easy for me to manage from this side of the Pond.

    Ahh, but to arrive home to warmth, and light, and a patient dog, and a loved one by the fire. Such Christmas bliss.

    Best wishes! xo

  16. What a beautiful word-picture you paint of your day, Friko. Thank you, it is delightful.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  17. Hi Friko – I wish you would list the books of the season you are reading because here it is sunny, many leaves are still in the hard wood trees but most of the other trees are green. I’d read a couple to get into the mood. In Australia it is the start of summer, and it is always warm in Hawaii – it’s not the same celebrating in the sun I think. Once I was in Dubai at Christmas – that was certainly different.

  18. Hi, beautiful pictures.. i reallyliked..

  19. A delightful post, Friko for the beginning of Advent. I felt the chill and then the warmth as you returned indoors, smelled pine branches and spiced biscuits.

  20. Thank you for inviting us along. It was a lovely walk and a warm homecoming. :)

  21. Don't know what I can add to all the comments above. I love the photos of your view and the tea table. I showed them to my SO and he gat hungry. You must be having Earl Grey as you have lemon in your cup. Also, my Mom loved the Gregorian chants as do I. Love your writing style.

  22. ein recht schönes, wärmendes Post, das eine echte weihnachtliche Stimmung vermittelt.
    Dazu eine beeindruckende Landschaft und ein gemütliches Zuhause!

  23. Friko you are such a good writer you put others shame I look forward to your letters.

  24. Happy Advent to you too Friko. I love the smell of pine. Natural decorations are so much nicer too!

  25. Dear Friko~ That was so beautifully written and photographed! You tell as good a story as the scraper! So sensory--you defintely have evoked the season. I love your lifestyle!

  26. Was für eine schöne Idee.
    Die erste Türe des Adventskalenders ist aufgegangen.
    Ich schaue hinein und möchte nicht diese magische Atmosphäre stören, aber warte still und neugirieg auf die nächsten Türlein.

  27. What a lovely, lovely picture you paint of this evening. Thank you for letting us join you. (I am glad you were careful climbing that icy stile!)

  28. Happy Advent- I love decorating with pine boughs- thanks for sharing!

  29. A lovely description of a perfect day! Thank you for the first window!

  30. Friko, I'm so glad I found your blog! You really seem to embrace and adore solitude, carrying the nature writing tradition of Henry David Thoreau, Annie Dillard. You describe your days events in such a literary, uniquely descriptive fashion, blending the activities of your day seamlessly. Your descriptions of settings are gorgeous. It's so real and warm. Now I want to drink tea and curl up with a book. As I read this post I felt myself stepping into the pages of a book. I look forward to your next chapter!

  31. The pleasures of a warm fire on such on a cold day are the same around the world...and the next page in your story is eagerly awaited!

  32. That's it, lady of the valley,
    you are officially nominated
    to be our story-telling laureate
    for the rest of the year.
    Your writing style has the warmth
    of a Rockwell, the depth of a Dickens,
    with a smattering of Dylan Thomas.
    I adored this letter, and so many of
    us are privileged to be your friends
    and have you correspond with and
    share with us. Thank you so very
    much. This is a perfect capper for
    my grey Northwest day.

  33. The only treat that could possibly
    bound over the head of your poetic
    prose, and holiday heart, would
    be listening to you read your work,
    a real fireside chat with our dearest.
    Learn how to make audio mp3's.
    It adds dimension to the blog
    and to your life.

  34. On your tea table I spy Stollen, Domino Steine, and Spekulatius biscuits. A fire and a pot of tea completes the cozy picture, and I am transported.


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