Almanac: A peaceful start to the new year, fallen branches and a priceless treasure

The seasons turn, a new year arrives.

My Christmas gift was a traveller’s journal which is why my story begins here. I carried it around in my backpack and to and fro between my desk and bedside table for weeks before beginning to use it. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

We were living solely on the last of our savings at the time, because of the pandemic stopping our work. Due to this our Christmas tree was created from fallen branches gathered from the local woodland. The scent of pine still filled the room, just as before, except this time there was also a meaningful, family story linked to our little “tree”. After New Year’s we used the foraged twigs to create a bug hotel in the nature corner of our garden.

This year we all want to do the same again, only more so. I am already looking out for where the holly grows in the little woodland so that we can decorate the door frames and bookshelves, and create a homemade wreath for the front door.

Adjusting our sleep/wake times meant that each morning we got to greet the dawn. I started to measure time in the early hours by watching the bright golden winter sunrise creep across the frosted glass of the window. Later, I would stop wearing a watch around the house altogether.

The birches kept their final leaves into late December, creating a rare beautiful effect during the golden hour at dusk each day. I can only see a small part of this tree from my desk window, so as soon as the sun dips low enough to shine through the branches, I know to take a walk towards the southern footpaths for the full view.

This moment at dusk, where I pause work and take a quick walk, starts to herald teatime because when I get back from the cold, the kettle goes on and soup is warmed on the hob. I am already re-aligning my days to the nature around me, although I am not consciously aware of it just yet.

By early January the fields become almost impassable, the little woodland equally so. As soon as the temperature drops and the sun clouds over, our boots can go three foot or more into the mud in places. It will be April before the fields are fully walkable again. As long as we keep close to the blackberry hedgerow in the top field, we can at least still enjoy the wide winter skies.

Here is my favourite photograph from Christmas and New Year 2020: When you are only two and a plastic emerald ring falls out of a cracker and you cannot believe that such a priceless token can be yours.

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22 Comments Add yours

  1. What a wonderful idea for a tree and I’m sure the children loved it. I hope your income is back on schedule by now. As for the ring, treasure is in the eye and heart of the beholder. ๐Ÿ™‚


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Janet … so happy to say we’re back earning again. Short term contracts and running the little art shop, gradually rebuilding everything lost and so very relieved things kicked back in just before it got too late financially x The children preferred the foraged tree above all others ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If children are brought up to expect the best of everything or to get whatever they want, they’re much better off and enjoy life so much more. I’m so glad to read finances are getting back in order!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So very glad to read in the comments that your finances are back on track. From personal experience, I know financial difficulties are no fun at all. Beautiful writing, as always. I was struck by the differences between your winter and mine. In Maine in January, the ground is frozen solid and is usually beneath several feet of snow. In March, when it all thaws and melts, the mud rears its ugly head.

    I so enjoy reading about the differences.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Laurie, it got a bit close to the wire but weโ€™re back in business now and I have my little art shop too ๐Ÿฅฐ I would love a bit more snow in winter as we get so much rain โ˜”๏ธ Your photos of Maine under snow are always so pretty โ„๏ธ

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad to read that you are back in business now!


  3. Kellie says:

    What a lovely post, so true that sometimes getting started is the hardest part and loved your fav pic ๐Ÿ˜Šโค๏ธ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! … I found it really tricky to write at all during the first months of the pandemic and there’s something very comforting about writing in hindsight ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope all is well with you Kellie xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Katie says:

    This was a beautiful post. I’m also happy to hear that your finances are straightening out – that is so stressful! And what a lovely idea for your Christmas tree, especially reusing the twigs for a bug hotel. I’m looking forward to reading more about your year ๐Ÿ™‚

    I also love my traveler’s notebook. You’re right – getting started is the hard part. But it’s my constant companion and I’m so happy to have it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I carry mine everywhere too as well as an “emergency book” (as my husband calls it) to read in case of a free moment ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    2. WordPress glitches when I try and reply on your lovely blog, here is the message I tried to leave on: is: “What a beautiful book blog – I’ve added Mary Oliver’s poetry book to my wishlist, thank you! I’ve made a project this year of finding all of the abandoned books on my Kindle (over ten year’s worth) and some I’ve quickly read wondering why I ever left them, others got set aside again – maybe later they will be perfect :-)”


      1. Katie says:

        That is SUCH a good idea! It’s so easy for books to get lost on my Kindle… I often forget what’s on there!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the immediacy of your writing in present tense. I feel as if I’m experiencing what you are experiencing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you is much Tanja! This is how I seem to write naturally when I make my notes and I used to spend a lot of time putting my words into a different tense before publishing. It’s so lovely to hear that you like it written this way x

      Liked by 1 person

  6. dprastka says:

    Such a wonderful post! I’m so happy to read here that you are back in the positive and doing well. Such wonderful photos with your beautiful writings! โค๏ธ Diana

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Diana, I was a little nervous to write about it (whilst not wanting to pretend the last year was easy) and your encouragement means a lot to me x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A lovely post. I like the cosy little gnome with the bunny ears ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. kegarland says:

    This is such a beautiful post: the imagery, the photos, everything โค


  9. Lovely post. Reminds me of pulling my own little ones around in a wagon (when they were little). Except we all had matching fireman hats.


  10. Jo says:

    Sometimes I think taking your watch off is the ultimate in luxuries. Waking and sleeping with the cycles of the sun…I adore your writing (but then I adore your work…)


  11. Sandra says:

    I have so much to catch up on here! The almanac is a wonderful idea. (Which I may steal one day, with due credit, I promise!) Glad things are looking up again financially ๐Ÿค—

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Sandra x Yes – things are much better now, but it was a little bit fraught for quite a while. I am sure I will look back and feel that everything happened for a reason ๐Ÿ™‚ I really recommend the almanac, I have been enjoying it so much xx

      Liked by 1 person

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