November 26: On this gray day after Thanksgiving, quietude settled everywhere. I saw flames bloom from a firepit in an empty yard, perhaps to warm the walking neighbors. I saw picturesque houses arrayed down a hill, a view masked by leaves until today. I watched trees holding up a patch of blue sky escaping from the clouds. And I spied a woman crossing the street at dusk carrying what could only be a very large paper turkey.
November 27: “You know,” Kevin said, “that handle is going to break one day and send scalding water down your leg.” Harrumph. I rolled my eyes and carried my little red tea kettle back to its home. A tenth of a second later, my little red tea kettle leapt from my grip and plunged to the floor, snapping the handle on impact and shattering it. We gaped in stunned surprise, then laughed long and loud. Clearly, the kettle agreed with Kevin and had to take matters into its own hands.
November 28: A warm sunny day —and the first Sunday of Advent — sent me outside with my Christmas lights. A few dozen loops around my Arbor Vitae, a lighted swag over the front door, and a few more blankets of lights finished the job. To get in the spirit, I listened to the new podcast Hark!, which tells the history of beloved Christmas carols. I couldn’t help but sing as I untangled the lights. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel indeed.
November 29: A few days ago, Jeremiah and I opened the door to One More Page Books and could barely pass through the throngs of shoppers browsing our wonderful independent bookstore. Jeremiah took his place behind the cash register and I floated as the world’s happiest volunteer on Small Business Saturday. The store thrummed with the joy of people who love books, wine, chocolate — and the pleasure of coming together to safeguard and support this vibrant jewel in our community.
November 30: Tiny perfect pellets of snow bounced with brio off the fallen leaves. Like sugar crystals on molasses cookies, more snowy pellets covered the wooden planks of a footbridge. The sun would eventually shoo winter away, but everyone who saw the persistent snow pebbles smiled at their enthusiasm.
Bonus: Today I toured beautiful Hillwood Museum with my friend Lee. We admired the decorative arts displayed in the mansion’s sumptuous interiors, but the gardens provided the greatest ornament on this autumn day. With forests in every direction — and its own Japanese garden, parterre, and woodland walks — we could have been savoring New England. Only the tip of the Washington Monument peeking over the trees helped us remember that we were squarely and surprisingly within the District of Columbia.
December 1: Visiting dear friends today in their new home, I was charmed by the sassy, splendid sweetness and intelligence of the family’s 8- and 10-year old daughters, Lauryn and Layla. While the adults talked and ate homemade Five Flavor Cake (a pound cake delight with coconut, vanilla, lemon, almond and rum), the girls exclaimed over their gift: Tales of Fearless Girls: Forgotten Stories From Around the World. Why was I surprised by their joy? Their mother and grandmother are pretty amazing and fearless women themselves.
Bonus: My friend’s mother was one of the first Black people to integrate the professional ranks of the Social Security Administration. Her stories from the 1960s and 1970s were heart-stopping and uplifting. Equally memorable were her turns of phrase, like this one: “She could talk sugar out of a cake without breaking the crust.”
December 2: Although the day reached 60 degrees and the sun invited tee shirts, I went in quest of our Christmas tree. As I wandered the parking lot forest of Fraser firs, I encountered the woodsmen at work. And especially their tools. Yes, they wielded loppers and chainsaws for trimming, but I was fascinated by their other equipment, made exactly for this Christmas tree purpose.
Think of the metal “L” that stretches above the doctor’s scale to measure your height. Now send it 10 feet up, paint it yellow, give it two arms, and affix it to a stand with a drill rising from the base. Voila! You have a hole in the bottom of your tree. Then escort your tree to a red basket, like a cherry picker but on the ground. Slip the tree in, flip the switch and watch your tree shimmy and shake out leaves, needles, and whatnot. Enter now the loppers, chainsaw, and strong hands to guide your prize through the hatch of your Prius. The final tool? Sweet, strong, and patient Jeremiah to raise and secure the tree in its spot. Tonight I’ll cue up my Christmas records and, lights in hand, finish a good day’s work.
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