The Week Between

Hi Friends!

Warm greetings from our cozy, little home to yours! I hope you are feeling healthy, warm, and safe on this final day of 2022.

Our family enjoyed a quiet Christmas celebration this year, spending lots of time together ~ time for reminiscing, sharing favorite Christmas memories, and exchanging heartfelt cards and gifts. We are a small family now, just my sweet dad, my loving husband, and me. This is our second Christmas without my dear mom, Darlene, and my brothers, Johnny and Jeff. We all agreed that although it looked like Christmas, sounded like Christmas, and tasted like Christmas… it just didn’t feel like Christmas for any of us this year. We could all deeply feel the presence of their absence. They will always live on in our hearts. Love is like that…

My heart was telling me to add some new holiday traditions this December. So, this year, I embraced an old-fashioned holiday tradition for the very first time ~ drying orange and apple slices.

As the fruit dried slowly in the oven, I savored lots creative time, die cutting and ink blending some dried citrus slices to use on handmade cards. Hot cocoa and Christmas cookies also inspired some special greeting cards. (It always tickles my fancy when art imitates life!)

Such simple pleasures! It was such fun to hang dried orange slices on our kitchen wreath, fill bowls with dried fruit, and to make a dried citrus garland for our pantry.

The ‘week between’ has always been one of my favorite weeks of the year. I cherish the time between Christmas and the New Year to make space in my days for quiet reflection and writing letters to faraway friends. I love adding birthdays and anniversaries to our special Celebrations wall calendar! I also spent many hours creating the pages in my new 2023 Self-Care bullet journal.

My husband had vacation time this week, so we enjoyed some walks in pretty places and a visit to the Christmas flower display at our nearby conservatory. The ‘week between’ is just perfect for walking hand-in-hand, dreaming together, and reminiscing!

Many years ago, my husband and I celebrated the Christmas season together in Paris. Many, many years ago, I celebrated Christmas and New Year’s with dear friends in Germany. The ‘week between’ is a wonderful time to share such special memories of faraway friends who have become our German family. For the past 45 years, I have always celebrated the New Year twice! With a video call at 5pm (Central Time), we can ring in the New Year in Germany with our dear friend. We sing Happy Birthday, as we enjoy the German fireworks celebration at midnight together from her balcony! “Same procedure as every year!”

Tonight we will honor our Irish roots in a new way! My husband and I will try a special New Year’s tradition from Ireland. Just before midnight, we will open our back door to ‘let the Old Year out.” Then we will open our front door at midnight to “let the New Year in.” It will be so nice to welcome 2023 from our front porch, greeting any neighbors we see outside!

Perhaps you might also be feeling ready to “Let the Old Year out.”

We can hold on to all of the blessings and precious memories…

as we open our hearts wide

for a more gentle, peaceful, New Year!

Throughout the year, I enjoy the wonderful words of the Irish poet, John O’Donohue.

His words during the ‘week between’ always call to my heart.

“As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.”

John O’Donohue

from: Bless the Space Between Us

John O’Donohue

from: To Bless the Space Between Us

Wishing you a good start to the New Year, friends!

Be well,

explore new possibilities,

and open your heart!

Warmest hugs,

Dawn

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Gifts of Nature

Hi Friends!

I bundled up warmly at sunrise on that February morning. My heart told me that there was something very important that I must do… and I always listen to my heart! 💗

I hugged a tree… two trees, in fact.

It was a day to thank our towering pines for the many gifts they have bestowed upon us for over one hundred years ~ homes for the cardinals and other birds, a playground for the squirrels, and cool shade for the hostas, ferns, and mature perennials that thrived beneath them. Such an important gift for our climate, as well. Every few years, an arborist would come to check our pine trees and trim a few branches. He always shared the happy news that our pines were in good health.

As I hugged the trees, gratitude filled my heart! Our pine trees have provided a magnificent background for many of our treasured family photos over the past thirty five years. They provided welcome shade on our deck for quiet mornings, yoga practice, family Fourth of July celebrations, and tea parties with friends. They shaded teacher curriculum-planning sessions on so many summer mornings. The beautiful pines were always appreciated as we talked late into the night with family and friends, from near and far. The neighbors enjoyed the far-reaching branches that shaded their family gatherings, too. What fun to hang a piñata from the lowest pine branches for their birthday parties! Every year in early December, I loved to snip a few pine greens and gather fallen pine cones to fill an antique wooden box and to mix with dried garden gatherings to decorate an antique sled for our front porch.

Our towering pines watched over many life changing moments, too. My husband and I spent many hours getting to know one another while relaxing on my shady deck. A truly heartwarming part of our first date, on a Sunday afternoon in July nearly twenty years ago, was spent talking on my shady deck. The pines cooled our deck and entire backyard for the special picnic where both of our families had fun getting to know one another following our engagement! The following summer, my mom and I spent a lovely June afternoon on our shady deck tying bundles of flowers from my garden with satin ribbons, to hang from the chairs for our Victorian-style wedding ceremony. Ten years ago, the pines shaded our wonderful family celebration in honor of my dad’s 80th birthday.

If those trees could talk, they would tell so many stories of the single woman who dreamed of owning a home of her own to put down roots so long ago. The moment she saw the cozy, little 1922 bungalow, with a swing on the front porch, a big garden, and two towering pine trees… it was love at first sight!💗

Alas, there are BIG changes happening nearby! A very large, new home will be built next door. Half of the branches and half of the root systems would soon be destroyed. Our towering pines couldn’t safely survive the construction next door. So, my hugs and thanks that February morning were also a heartbroken ‘goodbye’ to our beloved pine trees.

Just a few hours later, the heavy equipment arrived…

A week earlier, I met with Matt, the tree man. I had two very important requests! He must be sure to protect my mom’s beautiful Rhododendron that grew on the edge of my Shade Garden, beneath the long reaching pine branches. This large plant grew in my childhood garden and is almost as old as I am. It was a gift to my garden many years ago when my parents moved to Arizona. Every summer, its large, pink blossoms warm my heart! My second wish was to have several slices of the tree trunks to use in a future garden project. Matt promised that he would make my wishes come true!

Oh my! It was a sight to behold! As I safely watched from the door of our deck, Matt worked from high in the air with pinpoint accuracy, cutting long branches, dropping them in the space between my white picket fence Herb & Tea Garden, our deck, and our roof. Mountains of branches were chipped into pine mulch. His team of four worked with guide ropes, chain saws, helmets, and ear protection.

As I watched the crew from the window, they were also watching me! It must have been entertaining to watch the little lady alternating between covering her eyes, giving thumbs up, and prayer hands of thanks as they worked. The four, strong men on the ground performed a ballet of twirls, turns, and leaps to quickly guide the falling limbs away from Mom’s Rhododendron.

Our century old pines towered over 75 feet tall. Our little house shook and my teacup collection rattled as each thirty foot section of trunk plummeted to the ground, landing in an ever-growing pile of branches in the neighbor’s yard.

The white sheet marks my mom’s Rhododendron surrounded by fallen pine branches.

When there was a safe path through the yard, I walked out to carefully uncover Mom’s special plant. It was perfect! Only two flower buds had fallen to the ground.

(You can see my beautiful mom and her Rhododendron in bloom

last summer here. Such a treasured photo.💗)

I walked over to thank the crew for their very careful work and to take a closer look at the fallen tree trunks. That’s when I discovered it…

a final gift from our towering pines!

A huge heart!

None of the crew noticed it… but I saw it right away!

It felt like a final gift of love from our pines.

We will find a way to use the carefully cut wood slices in our new, sunny garden design in the coming months. Although our towering pines are no longer with us, they will always be a huge part of our story!

We cherish their lovely memories…

and ALL of the gifts they gave us over the years!

🌸 🌸 🌸

Wishing you many Springtime blessings!

Stay safe and healthy!

Warmest hugs,

💗 Dawn