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  • Monique Sliedrecht

Bright Star & Snow Hills






It has been some time since I last wrote a blog post. Looking back, I see that November was a month where I naturally took a break in the past as well. What is it about November? I'm not sure. In any case, we're well into December now, and it’s good to be back.

It is still early on a Sunday morning. The third Sunday of Advent. I just stepped outside for a moment in the dark stillness - no sound, just darkness. There are some stars sparkling high in the sky, but the waxing moon has tucked itself somewhere behind the horizon or a cloud.

I’m not the only one up. Lights have flickered on across the bay in the village of Freswick. I turned on my own small spots of cheer inside, all lit up and framing the window in the room where I am sitting.

As I glance over now, I notice that I still have my woollen socks hanging out to dry. These special socks have been beautifully knitted by my Tante (Aunt) Wendy in Canada, and they are a wonderful addition to my winter warmth collection. I have a pair for each day of the week. I honestly don’t know how I managed without them before! And they are particularly special as they have been hand knitted by family.






Along with my feet staying cozy in the cold months, I was warmed by recent visits to Edinburgh and Oxford where I had the chance to meet with some artists and friends face to face after a stretch of long distance digital communication. It was almost overwhelming! But so good. Who knows what direction things will go in this next while, so I’m glad I managed to fit those trips in.

And they are both great cities to visit at this time of year - very festive with all the lights.

On the recent return journey to the north, it was remarkable to pass through the Cairngorms at dusk, with the slice of moon shining against a bright blue Advent sky and the hills wonderfully shaped and glorious in their snowy splendour.



It's a rather blurry photo, but I was in the car whizzing through, and well, you get the idea!



I miss snow! And I love the fresh cold air that comes with it, plus the smell of pine trees.

Before passing through the hills we stopped at a place called The House of Bruar . I got some tea and chutney and then stepped out to gaze up at the decorated trees in the gradual dimming of day.


The made-up stars dressing the trees reminded me of a card I received from a friend just the day before and the silvery sparkly star she placed at the top of a tree pyramid composed of the words

*

JOY

LOVE

PEACE


I have it hanging on my wall now, next to a stunning printed star she made.

I am suddenly reminded of a song I heard once - Bright Star by Anaïs Mitchell. It's a lovely tune. You can listen to it here.

Driving on after the brief stop, the road cuts through the magnificent snowy landscape and I open the window despite the chilly wind to breathe it all in. One star was shining bright in the distant glow of sky, and I thought of Bethlehem all those many years ago.



I must admit, I haven't really been feeling all that Christmassy lately, but in the context of snow hills, clear sky, starlit galaxies and crisp air, the spirit of the season begins to hit me once again.



I hope you have a lovely Sunday.



***

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—

Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task

Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask

Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—


From John Keats' poem, ‘Bright Star’



***



Here are some more photos taken while passing through the snowy Cairngorms the week before, on the return from Oxford and the day after the biggest wind storm I've ever driven through! You can read about that dramatic adventure in my most recent Northern Drift article.




















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