Thursday, January 22, 2009

"The earth is like a child that knows poems."
Rainer Maria Rilke

It is little wonder that carnival comes in the darkest days of winter. What else can we do when the sun sets so early and rises so late, and the icy grey outdoors insists that we add rum to coffee to ward off the chill? We must celebrate! Meat must be eaten extravagantly, liquor drunk indulgently, and laughter and music must be loud enough to make even the cold nights warm.

I spend most of my days indoors now, baking bread and carnival indulgences or writing in the blue room with tea and toast beside me. Because I am so often inside, my excursions in the snow have taken on a thrill of adventure. In my long coat and high boots I feel almost equal to the biting wind and the snow drifts that would overwhelm me if I dared walk through them. My winter walks chill and exhilarate me, afterwards the apartment is warmer and cozier than I left it, the tea tastier, and the toast, with it’s film of melted butter, beyond compare. I cannot imagine being less than enthralled with the bounteous variety of life, as I’ve recently discovered, some in our Środowisko are. When God presents us with an opportunity to see, to experience beauty in some form or another, we must not pass it by because literature, modern art, or hiking are not our passions! God does not limit His gift of beauty to those whose thoughts fall within certain parameters, and many people are able to grasp beauty to a certain degree without having met the Author of beauty; in many ways they come closer to knowing Him than those who, claiming to love Him, despise His wilder expressions of joy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. "

~Henry David Thoreau

I am marinating salmon for tonights dinner. I've wrapped it in lemon infused olive oil, raw honey, garlic, scallions, mangos, and chard; now it is waiting at home for the flavors to come together. My husband loves this meal. For us the value of a beautiful meal, arranged well and tasting excellence, is exceptionally high.

We were blessed Sunday with another foot of snow and warmer temperatures. I love the new snow, I love trudging through it, listening to it crunch and creak and crash as it tumbles off branches. Last week in the cold we kept ourselves warm with hot cocoa, irish coffee, cafe au rum, hot tea. This week, with our space heater off, we can enjoy plain water again and pad around barefoot on the cool floor.

Friday, January 16, 2009

If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty.

Rainer Maria Rilke

My husband is home today because of the cold. The wind-chill in Portland is reported to be 20 below and his boss decided it was not necessary to spend the day on a roof, exposed to the icy wind. Instead we slept late and are now passing the time in bookshops and warm cafes.

In the bookshop, I discovered a new book by Kathleen Norris, Acedia & me, I would like to spend more time with. She has such a taking style. I remember reading Dakota in eastern Pennsylvania and for months attempting to recreate her easy rhythms. I'm fascinated too, because of the theme, acedia, the "noonday demon" of listless dissatisfation I think so many people fall prey too, especially when our lives strive toward the beautiful and ordered; when they are not defined by an addiction to new experiences.

The whole book reminds me of someone's (I wish I knew who's) advice to build "a monastery of the heart" in which we might lift up all our rituals to Christ who knows that there is worship in laundry as well as liturgy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"An artist cannot do anything slovenly. "
Jane Austen

I sometimes wonder if I am a true artist; lazy and self-indulgent as I am. This new year has inspired me to spend many evenings drinking and talking, many morning sleeping late, and very little time beautifying my home and perfecting my craft. Christmas has poured itself into carnival and I celebrate while waiting for Lent to end my easy days and teach me again to suffer with Christ.

The air has turned bitter and icy, it bites into me and persuades me to stay away from my little cafe. I have fallen into the habit of reading my days away; with hot tea and good bread beside me I am working my way through a smattering of Polish Romanticism, Russian biographies, and Jane Austen. But always with the intention of reconnecting with friends "today...or tomorrow" but then the time disappears.