Monday, December 30, 2013

Orchids and Angels and Creatures of the Wood

A spray of orchids. 
I took this photo in the Orchid Conservatory,
 Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
 Charlotte, NC.

I finished out 2013 reading the December entry in Jean Hersey's The Shape of a Year. I have posted some tidbit each month from her book that is an account of a year spent on her Connecticut farm. She has proved to be a pleasant companion.

Ms. Hersey is quite busy in December. She adds to her hothouse orchid collection benefiting from the bounty of another grower who is moving to Florida and giving away his plants. She spends time with cans of spray paint gilding Christmas angels made from copies of Reader's Digest and flowers made of artichokes for her front door wreath. 

She offers two recipes - one for herb butter and another for chapattis, a flat bread made by the Hunza people of Pakistan. She takes in the warmth and fragrance of a neighbor's cow barn when she arrives to pick up a load of hay to spread on her roses for the winter.

She reflects on holidays past and is excited at the arrival this Christmas Eve of her daughter and grandchildren. She marvels at the winter stars and snows and sunsets. And, of course, she writes of the wild creatures in the woods, the gardens, and fields.

I began wondering about the animals, the shrew, the fox and the deer and all the others outside there going their quiet ways this Christmas Eve, following their own particular stars.

What did Christmas mean to all these creatures of the wilderness, and the others -- rabbits, woodchucks, and our birds that visit the feeders and even the cricket in the kitchen? Their world must feel the Christmas season, if differently. Surely some instinct tells them that the shortest day has come and gone this week, that little by little the sun will rise higher in the heavens now. Each day will be longer though imperceptibly at first.

Ah, yes. Let there be light!

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