Thursday, 21 December 2017

the shortest day

Today is the winter solstice.  I don't know if latter day druids and followers of wicca still gather at Stonehenge, now visitors have to go in via the new English Heritage visitor centre and it costs an arm and a leg, and the stones are a ten minute shuttle bus ride away though visitors aren't allowed right up to them anyway, but if they did go they must have got terribly damp.  I went to Waitrose.

I think I got everything we need to put on Christmas lunch, and tea for my relations tomorrow afternoon, and to keep ourselves fed until next week.  If possible I would prefer not to go near a supermarket until then, although I have just noticed that we're running rather low on cat biscuits so I might have to go to Budgens.  Waitrose wasn't too bad first thing this morning, but as December 25th draws nearer it can only get worse.  In fact, if I've forgotten anything I think we might just smile wanly and agree to do without it.

Christmas last year never happened because we both had flu, we had to cancel this year's annual holiday, we have both been nursing incipient colds all month that mock us by seeming to start getting better for a couple of days and then come back, and frankly if we both remain reasonably well between tomorrow and Boxing Day, and able to cook and eat a large meal containing most of the right constituents of a Christmas lunch, and the cats do not disappear or do anything that requires the attention of a vet, I will be entirely satisfied.  Start with modest expectations and they are more likely to be exceeded.  The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve, a small tree with a limited selection of plastic ornaments that the cats can't break or electrocute themselves on, the usual collection of Christmas music, and a mince pie and some nuts and raisins, will be sufficient entertainment.  I have not decided on my Christmas Outfit but I am fairly sure it will be something warm that won't be spoiled if a cat decides to sit on my lap, in other words whatever I would have been wearing on any other Sunday spent at home when I am not out in the garden.

Meanwhile, the amaryllis is opening just in time for Christmas, which was very clever of whoever prepared the bulb.  I read that left to their own devices they would bloom in April or May.  The flower is a wonderful shade of pink, the kind of intense pink I associate with lacecap hydrangeas.  You see it in interiors painted by Bonnard and Matisse, suffusing a wall or a tablecloth, then it crops up in the work of Vanessa Bell and the Bloomsbury set, and other early twentieth century movements.  The petals are thick, fleshy and luxurious, with a green tinge on their backs and a slightly rough, warty texture.  I wish I could have a big scarf made out of wild silk in just that shade of pink, lightly shaded with green.  As it is I am enjoying looking at the amaryllis when doing the washing up.

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