Sunday morning, I woke to a blanket of snow across the landscape. Maybe 5 inches. Not a mega storm, but enough to cover the branches of the trees, the lawn, and the forest floor.
I went out to take some pictures. Maybe it was the time of day … it was just a little past eight in the morning. There were dozens of little birds heading for the big forsythia bush. The birds love that bush. They love it in summer and spring and fall as well as in the winter. I don’t know if there is something there which they eat, or they just feel safe in its twisted branches.
We used to try to control it, but in recent years, it has quite gotten away from us, completely hiding the chain link fence that is the demarcation between our yard and the woods.
I was able to get some pictures of the little birds, something that usually eludes me. I don’t know what they are. Some kind of wren or finch. There are so many and they look very much alike. Our garden birds, sharing our world.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap — When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below; When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name: “Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen, “On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen; “To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! “Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky; So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too: And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound: He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys was flung on his back, And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry, His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry; His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face, and a little round belly That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly: He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle: But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight — Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Lewis Carroll is my favorite poet. In this, one of his less well-known but nonetheless wonderful poems, he offers commentary on both parenthood and aging. I find myself relating. Really. No kidding.
Just for fun, I’ve included John Tenniel‘s original illustrations which accompanied the poem on publication.
The poem appears in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and is recited by Alice (Chapter 5, “Advice from a Caterpillar” which was Chapter 3 in the original manuscript, Alice’s Adventures Under Ground). Alice informs the caterpillar she has tried to repeat “How Doth the Little Busy Bee” and it came out all wrong as “How Doth the Little Crocodile”. The caterpillar asks her to repeat “You are old, Father William.”
Following is the poem she recites.
“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”
“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”
“You are old,” said the youth, “As I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
Pray, what is the reason of that?”
“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
“I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment—one shilling the box—
Allow me to sell you a couple?”
“You are old,” said the youth, “And your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak—
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”
“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.”
“You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose—
What made you so awfully clever?”
“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said his father; “don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs!”
Odd Ball Photos are those great photos that you take which really don’t seem to fit into a common category. We’ve all taken them and like them, because we just can’t hit delete and get rid of them. This week, I have but two little entries.
Me and my shadow … and my joyous happy-feet red Fit-Flop clogs. The poem has been one of my favorites since I was a very young child. The shoes are rather more recent, but favorites nonetheless.
BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.
He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.
Fit Flops (brand name). Laugh if you like, but these are among the lightest weight, most supportive and comfortable shoes I have ever owned. Whoever it was that recommended them to me? Thank you!!