The Beauty of this Life

On this wintry day, from my kitchen island, I stir my mother’s homemade lentil soup and look out at the Redwood trees, dripping wet with rain.  The time to go inward is here, a simple but sure season of good things yet to come.  I think of all that is taking place outside and all that is going on inwardly.

Edna O’Brien, the Irish novelist said, “In a way, winter is the real spring–the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.” 

This is the case in the Sonoma wine country where the naked, golden brown branches after months of dormancy, resurge into pink buds and lush green vines, but not yet, not yet.

This is nature’s low-key time, perfect in every way with not much to do.  Winter makes me want less, need less, feeding myself and my family with only the basics: food, shelter, love, connection, and energy to create a new.  To be reborn like every living thing in the garden.

I am reminded of nature’s patience and the need to cultivate more of my own.  My German Shepherd Jeb waits for our daily walk near the veggie garden, still needing clearing for seeds this spring.  In good time, we will plant basil, cilantro, chili peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, parsley, cucumbers, and artichokes. 

But for now, my desire to go inward, observe and write is heightened.  The quiet allows for new songs of Sonoma to surface and make their way onto the page–of the orange breasted Robin hunting for seed on the grassy knoll of our vineyard, of the Camellias waiting to burst into red color from my kitchen window, of the night sky diamonds shining their brilliance under the valley of the moon.

I watch life with all its intensity, active stirrings and true offerings.  I accept the cycles of nature–of death and rebirth.  I see reality clearly and understand intuitively, the beauty of this life found in the silence, creativity, and simplicity of nature’s surroundings.  I think of Aristotle’s words…

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”


A Second Chance

christmas 2007

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.  I really, really am.  I wish, just once that it would snow in Sonoma on Christmas day, but alas, it would take a miracle for white blankets of snow to cover our homestead and nestle us in for the long winter’s night.  

But no matter–the cool crisp night air, delicious kitchen smells and white lights shining off our 6 foot wreath outside our home, puts me in a glowing, festive mood. 

I adore the warm colors of gold, red and green seen sparkling from our tree; I cherish the heartfelt moments by the fire, shared with family and friends; I immerse myself in the deep feelings of gratitude and joy, similar to Ebenezer Scrooge born with a second chance to live with heaven in his heart and ecstasy in his acts of kindness. 

I know the holidays can be a blue time, a sad and true time for those we love and for those we have lost, but we still have each other.  And for those we have lost, we carry them in our hearts.  They are with us still. 

As I approach 2012, I want to look at this year as a ‘second chance’ to really make the most of this life, this simple life I have created in the heart of the wine country. 

As Confucious once said, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

The Art of Slowness

There is something about winter that makes me slow way down: the cold night air, the naked tree branches, the dried flower buds holding on for dear life–all are living proof that winter has arrived and the time to go inward is here.   

There is an art to slowness, although it takes time to master.  My mind still runs a mile a minute with things that need to be done; my body whispers, “What’s the big hurry? Enjoy the slowness, the dormancy of nature, this organic tapestry weaving time and energy together to restore and bloom come spring.”   

And so, there is not much of the garden left.  The cold night air and brisk winds have taken the last of the vineyard leaves down. 

A few flowers remain–red and white Cyclamens decorate my outdoor pots, and red Camellia buds are holding tight to open come February. 

This time of year makes me want to curl up by a warm fire and read a juicy book. 

Or take a little nap under a thick blanket with Amber who waits for me to take her inside.  These little moments say, relax into the day, it is ok. 

One of my favorite past times during the holidays, after I have made breakfast, dropped the kids off at school and spent my morning writing, is to sit in my living room with our Christmas tree all a glow, my candles lit in vigil, to relish the moment of this warm scene.  My home is my church, my sanctuary, my place of refuge. The art of slowness is mastered here.