Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Stroll - City Sidewalks

So... I promised to tell what I was "busy about today." The morning was ordinary: I did some homework, some housework, and baked some bread. In the afternoon, Haiku and I picked her sister up from work and we headed into the city. Our city, about a half an hour drive from home, would be a town by most people's standards. By virtue of two malls, some small-scale "urban sprawl" and several "big box stores, this quaint town qualifies as a city. At least it does to those of us living in a township that doesn't even have a traffic light.

A little river skirts one side of the main downtown street. With the thermometer reading only 11 degrees F, we did not linger as long at the riverside as we would have on a warmer day. We strolled down the city streets and window shopped, popping in a boutique and a bookstore... mostly to escape the cold.

At last, having already secured our tickets when we first arrived, we entered a gorgeous refurbished theater. Crimson velvet curtains rose and we sat beneath a "starlit" ceiling and watched Slumdog Millionaire. The movie was riveting... just perfect!

When our emotional journey was over (in other words, when the movie ended) we stepped out of India and back onto the quiet streets of a small northern city. The cold air and pale skies were a shock after the color and vibrance of the film. We headed toward the car, filling the air with the excited chatter that follows a really good movie. Senryu requested that I make some homemade chai, as I did often the year we studied India (back in our old homeschooling days) and have only done occassionally in the years since.

We're back at home now, sipping our spicy chai and enjoying the warmth and comfort of home.
all photos by Haiku and Aisling, Sunday January 25, 2009

Sunday Stroll Invitation

"It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?"
~ Henry David Thoreau
My day will be a bit busier than I prefer my Sundays to be, but I will try to remember to take my camera along with me, so that I can share some more winter images late in the day. At that point, I will also share what I've been "busy about."
If you have time to stroll today, and if your weather permits, please post about about it on your blog and then come back here with a comment and a link to your post. You may use the Sunday Stroll button at the top of this post on your post or side bar if you would like. I will add participant names to this post so other strollers can walk through your garden too.
Look who's strolling:
Cloudhands at Uncarved Block

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Stroll - Winter Hats

Everything is glistening as the sun peeks out from behind the clouds that float in a surprisingly blue sky. I say "surprisingly" because it has been so long seen I've seen so much blue in the sky. When I started out, the only tracks on the pristine new-fallen snow were from the deer, whose early morning foray led them from their resting places, tucked away in the shrubs that grow in the marshy southeast corner of our land, to the compost pile in the sleeping vegetable garden, then down to our neighbor's corn field.

It looked as if everything in the world pulled on a winter hat this morning. The dried flower heads of buddleia (butterfly bush) have on sparkly caps, and the tiny everygreen in the butterfly garden has on both a snow-cap and shawl. Every stump or overturned bucket has a snow-hat on.

The creek is still and silent today. Only the little pool where the creek leaves our neighbor-to-the-north's property and spills into ours gives a clue that water sometimes runs here.

By the end of my walk my own tracks, like that of the deers, coursed down the hill and along the indivisible garden trail.
Standing at the end of the driveway, I looked out at the horizon where a far-peninsula cradles the other side of the bay. All around, near and far, snow had fallen on snow, as Christina Rosetti wrote. But I did not find the mid-winter bleak; I found it quiet, serene and familiar.

Sunday Stroll Invitation

"Snow had fallen...snow on snow...

Snow on snow...In the bleak mid-winter... Long ago."

~ Christina Rosetti

If you have time to stroll today, and if your weather permits, please post about about it on your blog and then come back here with a comment and a link to your post. You may use the Sunday Stroll button at the top of this post on your post or side bar if you would like. I will add participant names to this post so other strollers can walk through your garden too.

Look who's is strolling:

Margaret at Periodic Pearls

Cloudhands at Uncarved Block

Me here at The Quiet Country House

Joyce at Tall Grass Worship


Friday, January 16, 2009

Playing in the Snow

While the deep freeze has my neighbors and I grumbling, there is someone in the neighborhood who is enjoying the season. Our nearly-fourteen year old German Wirehaired Pointer forgets her age as soon as she moves through the front door of our house. There is something in the air here, in the wild wind that blows, that courses like youth through Miss Maudie's stiff joints no matter what the thermometer shows.

Haiku took these photos as she and Maudie met the boys at the bus stop on Wednesday in sub-zero (F) temperatures. I love these photos of our old girl.

photos by Haiku, January 14, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Stroll - Ahead of Time...

Because we are having company today and I'm not sure how much time I will have to get outdoors with my camera, I am going to post photos of my walk yesterday. It was a very cold day, but so inviting with its crisp freshness that I had to get out and walk. I headed to the mailbox, but took the time to look around in wonder at how the beautifully the season was moving through these hills.

I stood at the end of the driveway and saw, through veils of snow, the sun shining softly above the lake.

In my warm, heavy boots, I walked north along our country lane, heading up toward the mailboxes which are about a quarter of a mail from the house. Snow fell in soft, fat flakes all around me.

As I walked, each bit of color caught my eye. Some color was provided my nature; some by my neighbors.

I reminded myself as I walked that winter, despite what our senses might perceive as evidence to the contrary, is a nurturing season. The heavy blanket of snow insulates the roots of the plants from bitter cold. Boughs and branches cradle their soft catch of snowfall. Eventually, though it seems a long time to wait, all of this snow will melt into the ground providing sustenance to the things that grow here.

A little handmade signpost points up the hill to the home of the farmers whose lands surrounds us on three sides. Wind and weather have torn away the words that gave meaning to this signpost, but it seems to me that this arrow just points me toward home.

At sunset I went out again. The air was colder, and the sky lit up with color.

When my oldest daughter, who was out with friends, called to ask if I'd seen the moon, I went out once more. The moon was astonishly large and lustrous as it rose on the eastern edge of the sky. My camera could not capture the white luminosity, nor the visible features, of the moon's face, but caught instead its shine and glow.

photos by Aisling, January 10, 2009

Sunday Stroll Invitation

"There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast."

~ Paul Scott Mowrer

I walk the hills and fields of my home and neighborhood fairly often, and must surely have the "feel" of this country imprinted on my soul by now. And yet each day, each slow walk down this narrow bumpy road, each quiet meander, brings something new.

If you have time to stroll today, and if your weather permits, please post about about it on your blog and then come back here with a comment and a link to your post. You may use the Sunday Stroll button at the top of this post on your post or side bar if you would like. I will add participant names to this post so other strollers can walk through your garden too.

Look who's strolling:

Margaret at Periodic Pearls

Abbie at Farmer's Daughter

Me, here at the Quiet Country House

Cloudhands at Uncarved Block

Joyce at Tall Grass Worship

Ruth at Everyday Woman

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tuesday at Home - Contentment

My children started back to school yesterday after their two week holiday break. I spent the morning buying textbooks for college with my oldest daughter and then came home and cleaned house. Late in the afternoon, about nine teenagers (two of them mine) arrived for a sledding party. The walked in the cold, cold air on our icy country lane up to an area they call the "bowl" for its shape. As you can imagine, that bowl shape provides a wonderful landscape for sledding.

Afterward they came back into the house and made hot chocolate and lemonade (not wintry but deliciously refreshing) and baked the cookie dough that one young man brought with him. My little boys got home in time to share in the hot chocolate and cookies, though not the sledding (they were at the bowl the day before with their dad.)

Today, the house is quiet. Nine year old Sijo stayed home from school with a sore throat and a slight headache, but he isn't feeling very poorly. Tuesdays, as you may remember if you read my blog often, are my "at home day." Though the main rooms are often cleaned up for company or just a weekly once-over, the corners become cluttered and untidy much too easily. I've been working on the piles in the corners of the master bedroom today. Everything ends up in there! The ironing board, my husband's work-related manuals, the laundry piles, the big box of gift-wrap... you name it!

As a break from heavy cleaning (definitely not my favorite thing) I am spending a little time in the kitchen. I have croutons toasting in the oven as I write this, made from what was left of the bread I baked on Sunday. Three fresh loaves are rising on the counter top.

There is nothing exciting going on this Tuesday afternoon at the Quiet Country House. Sijo is reading a collection of Peanuts comics in his bed, the cats are napping in sunshine streaming in through the windows, and I'm getting hungry smelling the aroma of olive oil and italian seasoning from the croutons in the oven. Whereever you are, however you are filling your afternoon hours, I wish you contentment.


photos by Aisling, January 2009

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sunday Stroll - Glazed

The freezing rain that has been falling since some time in the night, has glazed over my world. A crust of ice on thesnow cracked and crunched as I walked up to the woods on the east border of our property. Ducking briars and slipping on the slick surface, I entered the quiet of the forest-world.

Last summers ferns are dry and golden, but they remind me of the sea of green fronds that I waded through just a few months ago. A vacant bird's nest reminds of the song that filled these nearly silent woods during those summer days. The woods are so quiet on this January afternoon that I can hear the hiss of a chunk of ice as it slides slowly downhill. The rose and blackberry briars pulled my hat off my head several times, as I ducked beneath them to find my way through this little forest without trails.

As I travelled down our back hill toward the swamp and the cornfield where the deer forage and sometimes bed down, I saw unexpected color.

My walk was crunchy, glazed, and serene; kind of a rural northern version of zen.

photos by Aisling, Sunday January 4, 2008