This Fragile Tent Christmas card, 2009…

I’m going to take a few days break from blogging. If I can. No-one reads blogs at Christmas anyway- we have far better things to do!

Like most of us, I have been busy- cleaning shovelling snow and grit, and wrapping.

We were out carol singing yesterday, and I really enjoyed it- it has become a Christmas tradition that is increasingly important to me- we take out trumpets and trombones and pianos that most of us only play once a year, and we visit some old folks homes and sing…

It is such a blessing to give- and so may you find much blessing…

And to all of you who read this blog, may this Christmas be wonderful.

And may you discover Emmanuel. God with us.

Above all the neon blaze

And electric flicker

May you still

Be blessed

By starlight

Amongst all the old recycled songs

And the fake sleighbells

May there be a moment

When peace

Falls like perfect

Snowflakes

But when we’ve overfed

And over drank

When all the gifts are given

Let us remember

That the child

Became a man

Winter (and William) stage a comeback…

Will with hood up

Will with hood up

William has been away to the Lochgoilhead Feis this weekend, run by Lochgoilhead fiddle workshop.

He has had a ball- lessons on the Clarsach (hence the photo in the earlier post) the fiddle, and whistle, as well as Gaelic singing and pecussion.

He also had a chance to do a high ropes course, go out on a high speed boat, and shoot arrows. We missed him, but he had loads of fun.

We went to fetch him this afternoon, and to watch some of the kids put on a bit of a show. It was great to see so much enthusiasm for making music- which I think is one of those key things that holds communities together. Because Will is at a Gaelic unit in school, he has a chance to get involved in all sorts of Scottish cultural events- and it gives us such pleasure to see him soaking into the stuff of our adopted land.

A few weeks ago he went to a Celtic connections event with school, and seemed to pick up a hero in young singer Norrie MacIver, accordionist, beatboxer and member of the band Bodega. Norrie was one of the tutors at the Feis, and Will has come back full of enthusiasm- wanting to take up learning an instrument again. Thanks Norrie! We all need role models, and people to draw us on…

The weather was dreadful though! The drive down the spectacular Hells Glen is always a challenge- and when there is snow on the road it can be treacherous.

So here are some photos…

Snow…

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Manna

Overnight the spoors of snow had sown the fields and lined the winter branches white
It lay heavy wet, like a fragile crop that should be rushed to market
Lest it be wasted
But like manna, it has no shelf life
No possibility of air miles

And by afternoon, it is already old
And the surface of the hills, like an old mushroom
Once a splendid pregnant puffball
Is now shrunken and hollow
Leaching into the cold old ground.

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Dressing up light for the dancing…

Snow above Loch Eck, Argyll

Snow above Loch Eck, Argyll

The snow fell very early this year.

Last year, it was after Christmas when the first snow appeared on the mountains around us. We are close to the sea, so mostly it rains.

But last week we had a spell of cold clear weather, and snow kissed the mountain tops.

Winter can be cruel here. Not in the Good-King-Wenceslas kind of way- but nevertheless it can sap at the soul. The dark nights, the constant wind and rain, the wet cold that seems to soak into your bones.

The hillsides become unstable sources of land slips, the whole landscape goes dead-bracken brown and lifeless, the trees skeletal against grey skies and the pine forests become one huge dark moss sponge.

For those of melancholic disposition, such as myself, there is a beauty to these winters. The shafts of cold sunlight that periodically turn the dull browns to shining bronze. The empty wildness of the landscape. But I know I will come to long for the springtime.

I have friends who experience depression. For them, winter is a dangerous time, containing the possibility of the end of hope. The days deny the reality of the coming of soft days and renewal, and just leave a dark tunnel with no distant exit point.

For us all, there is a pressing need for to transcend the darkness. To find light. To put it on like a coat and walk in it.

To dwell in warmth and companionship, to see beauty and to celebrate it.

Some things make this more possible- and for me, one of these things is snow…

First snows

The first snows of winter bring blessing
To the hills and the mountains.
Yesterday bottle-brown
Now blue white crystal and pure

Soon rain will bring spoil and destruction
Turning the white mottled brown
Releasing the streams
Yesterday’s secret tears running down

But for now
My vision is draw to the highlands
Captured by sparkling sunlight
Shining but showing no shadow
Driving the darkness away

Dressing up light for the dancing and leading me on

Dressing up light for the dancing, then it’s gone.