Saturday, 28 December 2013

Lanterns for Dark Evenings

Back in November, we happened to visit Berlin just in time for Saint Martin's Day. A kind commenter here mentioned the tradition of lantern processions to me just before we left on our trip. I didn't think I would see any lantern parades in the city, but actually we happened to run into a few that weekend!

Most of the time there were just little trickles of people carrying their lanterns...

...but a little after dark on the 11th we ran into a whole street-full of children singing and carrying lanterns, following a Martin on his horse.

We thought it was such a charming way to start the holiday season, that when we came back I set to work to turn what we'd seen into a card to send out this Christmas.

 As in other years (see here: 2009201020112012), this took the form of a lino print.

Seeing the folded cards all piled up together with the image visible along their spines, had such a pleasing quality for me that I have begun to consider making a little hand-printed book sometime in the new year. We'll see!

Wishing that you continue to have a warm and joyful holiday season!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


The other day, hanging noisily, moving slowly eastward in a propeller plane above Scotland, we traced the outlines of mountains that had been entirely white with snow before three too-short days visiting friends in Dublin.

People were lighting bonfires on the hilltops below, and their smoke stretched homeward in long ribbons. Almost home and the day hardly begun, we were surrounded by the blush of an early-afternoon sunset.

As we came closer to landing, we were delayed in the air, circling in the gloaming. The sky was at the windows and on the screens of tablets. The sky was a pink reflection bent across lenses and retinas.

And then winter's slippery sun fell quickly. Glowering out from behind clouds, sometimes our angle as the plane turned made it seem like there were two separate half-suns separated by a writhing, angry patch of sky. By the time we were walking across tarmac it was dark and only fluorescent vests and small, cold lights shone for us.

Home with my head full to brimming with all the things seen in these weeks peppered with little wanderings. Ideas I had at the start of the month worked over and over in mind while walking, while gazing on European medieval masterworks, Indian miniatures, Ancient Greek monsters, surrealist treasures, and brilliantly-executed pochoir prints. Ideas that surfaced again and again while waking and waiting in trains and watching the way a stranger's nose or forehead curved.

There is talk of snow later this week. Only the last few leaves, the ones that will not fall, are left now. I want to settle in for winter, draw the curtains and huddle up close to the tiny warmth of my desk lamp and draw everything out that has been sitting by and waiting for all this time. Though, that is maybe a dream as real as a past holiday. December is always a long month that is short on time.