Sunday, 9 December 2012

Distillations



   Oh, what to think of these odd short days of so many faces, and so much holiday food?  There were oceans of people scurrying about in the dark clutching impossible amounts of plastic carrier bags as I walked home from work today in a nighttime hail shower (even though it was a Sunday afternoon).  And even in through the suffocating crush of wet coats brushing and rough edges of packages scraping, there was still the grace of a fresh wind rushing generously up against my face.

The other day, to cure a headache, I went to the winter gardens that are only a short walk from us now.  There was a brass band playing nearby and this angel's trumpet that seemed to shine light from inside its flowers.  I think that it may be the sweetest cure for any affliction.

Time seems to run in increasingly intricate patterns these days.  Thoughts and daydreams begin to burst their  barriers and run over into conversations about the weather. There are hours and hours for the selling and the buying of things, but no time at all for creating them.  And so, in the midst of all this, it feels to me more important than ever to grab at and steal any stray moment and to draw all possible pleasure from it.




Thursday, 6 December 2012

Christmas on Fire Trucks



   It has been a snow-edged day of waking early to chocolates hidden in shoes, home-baked cakes shared in moments between work, and packages in the mail.  And I thought, since we have another Nicholas-themed card again this year that the 6th of December, being Saint Nicholas' feast day, would be the perfect time to share it here.

   As I sat down this year to work on a new linocut card to send around for the holidays, my husband thought back to his childhood and came up with an idea.  He told me that in America, where he grew up, there is a tradition for Santa Claus to ride through the streets on a fire truck around Christmas time.  The truck goes slowly, but with lights flashing and sirens blaring.  Apparently this happens in a lot of towns in America where local fire departments are volunteer-run and need to create close links with the community, as they are very dependent on donations for their funding.  This American incarnation of Saint Nicholas is quite different from Der Nikolaus who used to visit my father in Germany when he was a child, which was the theme of last year's card.  And though it is certainly not so poetic an idea as the themes behind our card of two years ago or the one from three years ago, I do see how this would thrill children, perhaps stuck alone at the dinner table to finish their vegetables, or writing out pages of times tables or cursive letters.

   The card is quite a simple one this year. Hopefully it will bring some relief to those people back home who believe, no matter what I say, that I only make strange things.  I only make these cards as a way of sending family and friends a bit of happiness, after all.  Still, next year, if I find the energy for card-making I am thinking of Snegurochka, or my mother's childhood worst fear, the Abominable Snowman.

So in the spirit of a randomly passing Christmas spectacle.... A Happy Saint Nicholas Day to you!