It's the feast of Midwinter, and joyous the time. The solstice, and the turning back of the sun towards our darker lands. The fire is lit and a special dinner prepared. I have put on a long velvet skirt (with purple silk petticoat because I like the swishy sound), I'm wearing pearls and amethysts (not that any evil spirits would dare to approach on a night like this) and to be entirely practical on a raw foggy night, I have also pulled on knee length Ugg boots. I look great as long as I don't raise my skirts an inch from the floor. I have a huge glass of Chardonnay (OK so it should be mead or at least poteen punch, but I still have to get through dinner without falling asleep in a heap on the floor) by the computer as I type. Greetings to you all, and love on this Midwinter day.
Watched Irish news a little while ago on television, seeing the great annual event of Newgrange, where the rising sun at Midwinter pierces through a tiny slit in the great mound, pours down a long stone passage, and floods the central chamber with light. People beg, book, bribe to be there for that experience; but for you alone, here is a picture of a rather secret and special stone circle not twenty miles from my home here.
This is Lissyvigeen, which lies off the main Killarney road, up a side lane, through an old gateway, across two fields, past two huge sentinel standing stones, through a dark and tangled wood. You wouldn't come across it by accident, that's certain. We only heard about it by chance and went to pay homage. The picture was taken rather nearer to midsummer than now at midwinter, but the power of the place is evident, isn't it? Sometimes when I visit I find a little bunch of flowers or a budding branch placed in the centre of the circle. Others feel its power too.
We've had a welcome respite from wild winds and soaking rains over the past few days (sorry,Peg, I know you're still enduring dreadful conditions over there on Vancouver Island). We've been waking up to encircling mists and cold foggy days which are more festive in many ways than the damp mild rainy ones. It makes for great pictures too and DH has had a field day. The other morning he took a circuitous route to work via Dripsey Castle (most routes around here lead past castles in fact, so it's not that difficult) and found two graceful swans emerging from the mist.
And when I was in Killarney the other evening at dusk, the lake in front of Muckross House took on a strangely beautiful magic of its own as the mists rose.
There are times, I admit it, when I scream and stamp and rant for Joann's and Hobby Lobby and Michael's, when I yearn to live slightly closer than several thousand miles from somewhere - anywhere - that stocks rosewood circulars, but at times like this I know I am blessed to live in Ireland.
Enough of this. To the knitting, to the knitting. Geraldine, bless her heart and thoughtfulness, sent me a link to the marvellous See Eunny Knit . Just go over there and see those Bayerische socks! Go on - I'll have a sip (well, a slug really) of Chardonnay while you're gone.
Pretty spectacular, huh? Now I've got to get going on those. I simply can't live without trying them out. After the Dawn Brocco cutaway cables and the Travelling Cables cardi and the Celtic Vest and the Shepherd's Vest and the Charcoal Chunky Crop Cardi, that is. At the moment, working flat out on a GIFT FOR DH, which obviously can't be mentioned or pictured here (he reads this blog y'know, so be careful in your comments, but yes, he did know about the picture of rugby-playing Donncha in the semi-altogether, so it's all right).
Like Stephanie Pearl McPhee, I don't know why I'm always so shocked to find Christmas creeping up. It's not like it was unannounced or anything. And this week all the editors have been screaming for two weeks' copy in advance so they can sneak off and get drunk or love their families or something, so it's been pretty hectic. Wall to wall pantomimes every night too. (New World readers may be unfamiliar with pantomime but UK aficionados will nod sagely. Anyone who needs a brief history of pantomime and why it is essential to scream 'Oh no it's not!' several times throughout a performance, just let me know.)
I did get round to divesting Nicholas Bear of his customary sweater and jeans and dressing him up in his Santa outfit. Here he is in his rocking chair, prior to the divesting, with Sophie being somewhat suspicious (ok, I admit I bribed her with a doggie sweetmeat on Nicholas' knee).
(I really must clip her fringe before Christmas.)
And here he is, all dressed up for the festive season.
The briefcase holds his Swiss bank account, naturally. What else? (Actually this is a strange tale. Many long years ago I invented a background for Nicholas Bear, and decided he was really a Swiss banker. Then I decided he needed a (non-existent in teddy bear terms) brother, whom I christened Julius. Why? Oh I think it was because I'd found the tiny briefcase in a shop and it suggested banking. Anyway, years later, I was in Switzerland and discovered -guess what? Yes, there was a renowned financial firm headed up by Nicholas and Julius Baer. I thought I'd better not invent any more stories after that.
Now here's something very very special. I've kept it until last because it still moves me so much I wanted to wait a while. I got a tiny package in the post this morning, yes on Midwinter morn. It came all the way from Lapland, and in it I found...
Lene sent me these. And they arrived at the solstice. Aren't they the most beautiful things you ever saw? They brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. As they should to yours.
I'd better show you just how tiny these exquisite things are. Here is one of the miniature mittens, next to a ruler.
That glorious little thing is two inches long. Look at that thumb! It's all of 3/4 of an inch! Lene, did you knit it with fairy needles and gossamer yarn?
The mittens and the heart are bookmarks, and will be treasured and used for the rest of my life, on the most special of my books, but right now they're precious motifs which will be hung on the Christmas tree and honoured throughout this festive season.
Blessings of Midwinter.