Last week's drive from Montreal to central New York started out under blue skies: this is the beginning of the St. Lawrence Seaway, with the Pont Champlain in the distance. There were a couple of huge boats in the canal, easily breaking up the thin ice as they moved through it -- but the Great Lakes shipping traffic will end pretty soon.
Adirondacks -- not that you can see them very well in this picture, taken out the window as we whizzed down the Northway!
Amsterdam, NY: a city of mostly-abandoned mills on the Hudson. We stopped at this auto parts store to buy new windshield-wiper blades.
While J. was inside the store, I took this photograph of the mill behind it.
At "home": the view from the porch the next morning. So much for sunshine! But we had holly berries and a lot of warmth and brightness inside.
I'm still busy with singing, work, and getting ready for the holidays; somehow this year everything really did converge at once. Except for my music obligations, though, Christmas itself is simpler for us than it used to be. I miss the family and friends who are no longer with us, especially at this time of year, but I'm also noticing a growing sense of of acceptance and calm in myself, a desire for simplicity, and less internal pressure to do all that baking and shopping and gifting and visiting I used to do. Things don't have to be perfect: I don't have to be perfect. I trust that the love I feel is expressed all the time, not just at Christmas, and I've let go of most of the expectations (both of myself and others) that used to lurk around the holidays like icebergs, threatening to sink the whole ship. It's a relief to recognize this, and I wonder, looking ahead, what such an unburdened Christmas will be like ten or twenty years from now, should I still be here.
Paradoxically, as the trappings of Christmas -- both physical and emotional -- lighten, it feels like the season is regaining some of its mystery and joy that I remember from early childhood. Doing less opens up a space, and within that space, I find I can see much more. O magnum mysterium, we will sing on Sunday. Yes. One doesn't have to be literal about the Christian story to feel mystery at this time of year; the wheel of the seasons turns, and then stands still for a moment, inviting us to stop, too, and find the light hidden in the dark midwinter stillness.