and dreams away the cold."
BEN AARONOVITCH, Broken Homes
After a couple of snowy, blowy days, everything was fresh and soft this morning. The pale lemon sunshine reminded me that, although the world looked pretty outside, it was best to dress up warm when going out. Winds were still sharp with temperatures well below zero.
As mentioned in my previous post I took a few days away for some needful chores. And, after getting done some real dusting, decluttering, and setting things in order, the house once again feels snug...and ready for the coming season. I even packed up a few bags for the thrift store and did a major clear out of the laundry/cleaning supply/vase collection cupboard. Oh my, what an assortment of old bottles of this cleaner and that one—it was much like how shampoo and lotion bottles collect under the bathroom sink with their last bit in the bottom because someone conveniently forgets it's there and starts the fresh, new bottle. So, with the slate clean, I've been slowly adding touches of greenery, strings of twinkle lights, and it's starting to feel quite cozy and festive about the place.
Reading comes front and center in my world during this time of year. I think it's so for many of us. Reading and dark, cold nights are suited to each other like mugs of hot chocolate and snappy cookies. I like to bring out all my favourite seasonal books as I decide which ones I'll read through December, the holidays, and into January. Today I want to share three books I plan to dip into every day during these Advent count down days. These three books are each organized to have a specific short reading for every day, each with their own focus, as you'll see below. At this time, I don't have any set Advent rituals that I bring out from year to year, but I do enjoy taking time for a little Advent-focused reading, to set my thoughts on my reasons for this season. The other favourite seasonal books on my Winter-Christmas shelf will also make congenial companions for the wintering season—I'll share about those another day.
And so to these three...
I read this book last December and felt drawn to it again, if only so I can feast all month on its gorgeous front cover. The cover image is by Lisa Graa Jensen and it's called "Winter Woolies, Surrey Hills". This book is meant for the heart. As the back cover says, "Here, the reader is given an opportunity to engage in a pilgrimage of the heart, through Advent and Christmas to the feast of the Epiphany. Each day—from 1 December to 6 January—offers a poem . . . and an accessible commentary that is both critically informed and devotional in intent." Some poets are familiar to me, some are not: Rowan Williams, Elizabeth Jennings, Edwin Muir, Philip Larkin, T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Gerald Manly Hopkins, P.J. Kavanagh, and more.
Edited by Jane McMorland Hunter
I purchased this book at the recommendation of Miranda Mills on one of her Christmas vlogs. This book is for that part of us that connects to and finds solace in the beauty of nature. There are daily entries for every day of the year. And since I couldn't wait until January to begin this lovely book, I'm starting at the back in the December section. Short entries, barely a page each, are excerpted from many authors, including people like David Attenborough, Wilkie Collins, Rachel Carson, etc. In the Introduction, Ms. Hunter explains, "I have compiled two collections of nature poetry, and while doing so, I came to realize that many of the very best nature writers never wrote poetry and that many of the most moving descriptions of the natural world appear as prose rather than verse. Equally, writers such as Jane Austen, Thomas de Quincy, Daphne du Maurier and Samuel Johnson may not be best known for their descriptions of the natural world, but write on nature with great insight and feeling."
I suppose that's why even my novels are often starred beside exquisite lines that describe the natural world in which a story is set.
Notes, stories & 100 essential recipes for midwinter (2017)
by Nigel Slater
This is a book for lovers of food and winter. In it, the author shares his deep love for the season of winter—which started as a boy—and his love of food and cooking. A line from the back cover he says, "With recipes, fables and quick fireside suppers from November to early February, I take you through my essential preparations for Christmas and the New Year and everything you need to enjoy the winter months." This book also came recommended by Miranda Mills. And, already I'm drawn to Nigel Slater's beautiful writing about living in his favourite season of the year. I'm glad I love winter too. Looking forward to reading this rather full volume at 450 pages.
On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful month ahead,
Top Image by Danuta from Pixabay
Book images are mine