I've been keeping the kitchen warm with baking. The last pumpkin pie has been finished off and now we're on to more Christmasy things like gingerbread cutouts, buttery lemon rounds, almond anise cookies, and a few dozen meringues, full of dark chocolate chunks.
We've been having frosty, ice cold mornings. I took a backpack with me on a recent walk through the woods and gathered larch cones and pine branches to decorate our home for the holidays. Paired with simple white candles they make the most humble, beautiful arrangements.
Now, when the branches are bare, I spot so many woodpecker holes and squirrel nests . From Rafael's room we can also look out the window and watch ravens in the tree outside, cawing, wiping their beaks on the branches, and sometimes looking back at us. So many of the other creatures are burrowed away now, hiding from the cold, and it is kind of nature to give us the open sky and naked trees in winter, that we may observe the birds so closely, who are mostly hidden by green foliage in the warmer seasons.
The days, though short in terms of light, feel very long. Rafael is going through a difficult phase, seeming dissatisfied and irritated much of the time. Maybe we are alone too much. Maybe he should be with other children more often. I wonder if he is bored. Our walks in the woods are so much shorter now that it is cold, and then we are left with a lot of time at home, and although we have Play-Doh, crayons, Playmobil and puzzles, Raffi appears to have lost some interest in playing with these things. I ask him if he'd like to bake cookies or read a book, and he just seems annoyed with everything I suggest. I ask myself: Is this a phase? Or do I need to make a change?
On clear, freezing cold nights, walking the dogs down the quiet neighborhood streets, the stars pierce the darkness, and I get that strange feeling in my stomach that I always get when I look up at the night sky. There is something about seeing that open space, feeling so small under it's gigantic darkness, which both frightens and fascinates me. Seeing the stars, knowing they aren't just tiny lights but actual physical things that I could touch and walk on if I was close enough...
I also get that strange feeling in my stomach when I see airplanes soaring through the sky. I always wonder: where is it headed? Who is inside? What are the stories and dreams and hopes and disappointments and fates of all those passengers? And then my stomach starts feeling funny, and I think: to those people in the plane, looking down, I am just an insignificant dot.