Thurs. Dec. 30, 2021: Birch, the Month of Regeneration & Creativity

image courtesy of Alain Audet via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Fourth Quarter Waning Moon in Scorpio

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Birch

Rainy and cold

It’s rainy and raw over here in the mountains. We had some light snow, intermittently, over the past few days. We had snow on Christmas Eve, which was quite lovely, but it switched over to freezing rain by Christmas Day, and everything washed away. Then, the other night, we had just a bit of overnight snow, which the rain has, again, washed away.

The seed catalogs are coming in. After the holidays, I will sit down with books like ALL YOU CAN EAT IN THREE SQUARE FEET to figure out what we can and want to grow next year. I never got to use the seeds I ordered last year, before the move. In fact, I can’t even find them, although I hope to uncover them as I finish the unpacking.

Planning next year’s garden is always fun. I can dream as wildly as I want, before getting more practical, in terms of space available. It will be very different this year, because we can’t do any in-ground planting.

I miss my lilac bushes terribly.

The Celtic Tree Month of Birch is about regeneration and creativity. I could use some of that!

Happy New Year! I wish you health, peace, abundance, and joy.

Thurs. Dec. 23, 2021: Nameless Day and Changeable Weather

image courtesy of Hans via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Leo

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Nameless Day

Today is known as “Nameless Day” in the Celtic Tree calendar. It’s between the Tree Month of Elder and the Tree Month of Birch. Mistletoe is associated with today. It’s a “between times” day. It’s the day of unshaped potential, and a good day to decide what it is you want to manifest.

The weather is so changeable here. It reminds me of Scotland, where it’s lovely one minute and then stormy the next. We’d been warned that winters were gray and stark here, and we’ve gotten off easy so far, so I am not complaining.

Since we are on the second floor, I enjoy watching the weather from our large windows, or the porch or the back balcony. I love being able to watch the mountains.

The Winter Solstice was a gorgeous day, and I got a good many of my cookie platters delivered. It was delightful to be out and about.

Yesterday was rainy and raw, so I stayed in and baked; that means I have to push to finish all the deliveries and errands by today.

We still have plants on the front porch, because it hasn’t been all that cold. The Mother’s Tongue was getting too much sun, and didn’t like it, so we brought it in and put it in the sewing room, where it’s recovering like a Victorian heroine.

We don’t have a working fireplace in this house, so we couldn’t burn the greens saved from last year. Instead, I took my big cauldron out on the back balcony, and slowly, branch by branch, burned the greens. I didn’t want flames or a lot of smoke to worry the neighbors. But it was done, and a nice psychological tool to release the past year, and the stress of the move, and the life on Cape Cod.

I’m curious to see what this winter brings. It’s been warmer and milder than usual (my heat bill is happy). But we’re supposed to have a couple of weeks of bad weather before it levels out again.

Fingers crossed I can watch most of it from my window, rather than going out in it.

Have a lovely, peaceful, joyful holiday weekend.

Thurs. Dec. 16, 2021: Unseasonably Mild

image courtesy of Vlad Chetan via pexels.com

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Taurus

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

Celtic Tree Month of Elder

We are having an unseasonably warm patch right now. The past few days have been mild and sunny. I took advantage of it by doing as many errands as possible on foot, so I could be out and about, enjoying the weather.

Last night, it rained quite a bit, and it’s supposed to get up to 61 degrees F today.

We’ve been warned there’s snow coming in on Saturday, so I better get as much done as possible before then!

It’s much drier here in the mountains than it was by the ocean. The indoor plants need watering far more often. We should probably have a humidifier on, but they’re all in storage. And, frankly, it’s kind of nice not to have things damp, although I’m using far more hand cream than usual.

Both trees are up. The big one is almost decorated; we still have a few more boxes of decorations to get on there. It’s fun to figure out how things fit in this place.

The big tree completely dominated the living room, and, indeed, the entire downstairs in the Cape house. Here, it just looks normal-sized (it’s 7-1/2 feet tall). It looks good in the space, and it’s amazing how much more breathing room there is, both physically and psychologically, with higher ceilings.

We still have plants out on the front porch because it just hasn’t been that cold (at least not for long stretches). The small tree is out on the front porch, along with lights strung up along the windows. People look up as they walk past and enjoy it. The delivery guy from a local restaurant says the address is easy to find, because it has the “happy lights.”

Soon, I will have to hunt for the seeds I didn’t get to use last year, and figure out what we can and want to plant for next year. It will mean re-reading ALL YOU CAN EAT IN THREE SQUARE FEET, I’m sure.

But first – the winter holidays!

Thurs. Dec. 9, 2021: Just Enough Snow to Be Pretty

Small tree on the front porch. Photo by Devon Ellington.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

First Quarter Moon in Aquarius

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Elder

Snowy and cold

It snowed twice yesterday, once in the morning, then a break, then again in the evening and into the night. It wasn’t a lot of snow, either time, just two or three inches. It looks pretty, it needs to be brushed off the cars.

They’re good about plowing here. Unlike on Cape Cod, where it could be days before one saw a plow, and there were times when I could see the cleared street at the end of the block, but couldn’t actually get to it, the plows are out regularly. They’re strict about the “no parking on the street” regulations from November 1 to April 30, so that they can plow, and people actually respect it. With everyone working together, it works.

Because we are on the second floor, and have these magnificent windows, I love to sit or lie on the couch and watch the snow fall. It’s becoming one of my favorite mountain pastimes! And it’s wonderful to look out of either the front or back windows and see the mountains.

I love the way snow puts a quieting blanket on it all. Our neighborhood is reasonably quiet anyway, even with the college right here. For some reason, the clock isn’t chiming anymore, or right now. I don’t know if they turned it off because there was a film crew here, or for maintenance, or if it’s off for the winter. I miss it terribly. I loved keeping track of my day with it.

We have the small tree up on the porch, with the blue and silver ornaments. It’s the tree that used to be in my office. It’s got the painted shells and starfish and sand dollars that we accumulated and painted through the Cape years, and I also strung colored lights along the windows. It’s very pretty.

detail of small tree. Photo by Devon Ellington.

The stair bannisters are wrapped in lights and garlands, and look pretty, too.

This weekend, we put up the big tree. We finally decided to put it in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room, because I can tie it off to the door hinges for security.

It will be a big job. And there are still other decorations to unpack and put up. Since this space is new to us, there’s a lot of rearranging involved! But it’s fun.

After the holidays, I will have to sit down with the seed catalogs, and we will have to decide what we can, realistically, plant on the front porch and on the back balcony in containers. The garden will be very different this year, but it will exist.

What is it like where you live?

Nov. 11, 2021: November Energy

photo by Anna Rye, courtesy of pexels.com

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Aquarius

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Reed

Sunny and cool

In spite of the predictions we’d have our first snow this week, the weather has been glorious. Cold at night, down into the twenties, with a need to scrape frost off the car in the morning.

But during the day, it’s up into the fifties. It’s been sunny most days, a little bit of rain here and there.

I’ll enjoy every beautiful day I can.

This will be my first winter in the Berkshires, and I keep hearing how harsh they are, so I’m ready.

Last Friday, we drove about an hour and a half east, and it was just hitting peak foliage and gorgeous.

There are still some wonderful colors here, but many of the trees have shed their leaves, and they’re getting into the stark, tree-and-branch that has its own loveliness.

The pumpkin my friend carved on Halloween lasted until yesterday, and it started caving in, so we had to throw it out.

I’m hoping the weather will hold for the next few days, so we can spend some time up at the lake, and walking around The Spruces.

They have the trees up and decorated on the Main Street of town. The tree lighting is supposed to happen the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (or the Friday after, if it rains). I might meander the few blocks down for it. I bet it will look pretty.

The porch is still warm enough to keep plants out there. Tessa is out there as many hours as possible, every day. It’s her porch, and she will miss it if/when we have to close it off for the winter. I admit, I sit there as often as I can in the afternoons, reading and soaking up the sun!

One of the many good things about this place is the large windows with lots of natural light. On any sunny winter day, we will enjoy sunshine.

How are things in your neck of the woods this November?

Thurs. Sept. 30, 2021: Celtic Tree Month of Ivy begins

image courtesy of pexels-pixabay.com

Thursday, September 30, 2021

4th Quarter Waning Moon in Cancer

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Ivy begins

Rainy and raw

We haven’t had frost yet, but the nights are getting cool enough to bring in some of the plants: the African violet, the Christmas cacti, and some of the others. We are figuring out how to reconfigure things inside when we have to bring in all the plants, and some of the furniture that’s out on the back balcony. The front porch is still warm enough, with its southern exposure, to enjoy during the day, although we keep the door closed now at night.

The red geraniums are still blooming like crazy.

I’ve been putting up one decoration a day in the front windows; tomorrow I put up the rest of the Halloween/Samhain/Day of the Dead decorations all over the house.

I turned on the thermostat, and it says “heat on” but nothing comes out of the radiators, so I have to ask the maintenance guy what other switch needs to be flicked, and where it is. It’s too cold and raw not to have the heat on. Plus, we’re the ones who pay for it, so it’s not like we’re waiting for the landlord to turn it on.

The Celtic tree month of Ivy begins today, a good time for banishing, and getting rid of negativity in one’s life. I feel as though that’s what the entire move’s been about, but it’s good to spend focused time concentrating on it.

It smells good, even though we are in a city. It smells woodsy and full of the mums and the apples and all those other lovely autumn smells. I hope to bake an apple cake later today, which should scent the house even more (and maybe warm it up a bit).

Everything looks so pretty. I hope the weekend is sunny, so we can get out and enjoy the landscape. I love looking out of the front and back windows to see the mountains every day, and to watch the colors change.

What’s changing in your neck of the woods?

Thurs. Jan. 7, 2021: Wish for a Real Winter

image courtesy of Hans Braxmeier via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Waning Moon Fourth Quarter in Libra

Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I wish it looked as it does in the photo I chose for today’s post, but it’s much milder down here on Cape. It worries me; if the plants don’t get the rest from a good cold snap, it will negatively affect growth patterns. Not to mention all the bugs.

It feels frivolous to write a garden post when domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol yesterday. But I’m in touch with my elected officials, and they are representing my views in this. Thank you, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, Bill Keating.

Seed catalogs are arriving, which means there will be hours of delightful daydreaming, a nice antidote to what’s going on. However, I’m not sure what seeds to order, or if I should order any, as I’m moving in spring. Since I don’t know where I’ll land, or if I can transport seedlings, I have a feeling most of my catalog reading will remain in daydreams.

We’re still in the process of taking down the holiday decorations. It will take a few days.

The live green wreath has been stripped of its decorations and is now on the hook inside the door. I have an artificial gold-painted bay leaf wreath on the front door for the rest of the month, until I put up the Valentine door décor.

I’m tired and sad and angry. I have a morning group meditation via Zoom. If the weather clears up a bit and it’s mild enough, I’ll do a meditation later in the day under the beautiful maple tree in the back. I will miss the maple and the lilac terribly when I move. They’ve both brought me a lot of joy in the past decade.

Let’s hope there’s better news to report next week. Stay safe, my friends.

Thurs. Dec. 31, 2020: Happy Green New Year!

image courtesy of Dirk Vetter via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Cancer

Uranus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

Happy New Year, friends! We are all happy to see the back of this one leaving, aren’t we?

It’s rainy here, and the yard looks greener and happier than it has all year. Making up for all the drought. I’m worried, though – if it doesn’t get cold enough, it’s bad for the resting plants, and it also means a very buggy spring and summer. Not necessarily the good kind of bugs.

Finally got in the big bench from the deck. Now, only the large, round table sits there overwinter.

Indoors, we have plenty of artificial, glittery greenery and sparkly artificial fruit. We have a bowl of the fruit on the coffee table. Willa likes to pull out an ornament here and there and play with them. Fortunately, they’re not breakable.

Of course, yesterday, Willa went into the kitchen and pulled a potato out of the open bin in which they live and rolled it up and down the hallway. How many cat toys do we have in this house? And Willa prefers a potato. She’s inventive.

The seed catalogs are arriving, which is one of my favorite parts of the year. I will take some time in the next few weeks, dreaming and planning. Since the move will happen during planting season, I’m not sure how much will actually get planted, but the dreaming will be lovely.

Thank you for being on this journey during this weird year. I wish you peace, joy, health, and a green New Year!

Thurs. Dec. 24, 2020: Birch & Holly

image by dendoktoor via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Waxing Moon 2nd Quarter in Aries

Uranus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Birch Begins

Christmas Eve

Stormy and mild

What does it mean, when I refer to the “Celtic Tree Months”? They’re related to the ogham, which is a Celtic script used from the 4th to the 10th century C.E. There’s a wonderful article on theories of origin here. It makes more sense for you to read it than for me to paraphrase it.

Each of the months has fixed dates, and is related to a tree, from December 24-December 22. December 23 does NOT have a relationship to any tree – instead, it’s tied to the “day” of “a year and a day.”

Today, December 24, is the first day of the Tree Month of Birch. It lasts until Jan. 20. There is an ogham character connected to it, which I cannot reproduce, but there’s a wonderful article on the tree enchantments that shows the script and talks about medicinal, magical, and physical properties of the tree here. There’s another good article about the various trees and their properties here.

I love birch trees. Before I started working with ogham, I did not know that birch is the first tree to grow back after a fire.  I love to use it for creativity, new beginnings, purification.

However, it’s not usually the birch one associates with Christmas, but Holly.

In the Tree Calendar, the month of Holly is July into August, but here in the Northern Hemisphere, we associate it with Christmas, Solstice, and the Winter Holidays.

I adore holly. My next-door neighbor has an enormous female holly (it has berries), and seeing the tree every day makes me happy. Ashumet, one of the local Mass Audubon Sanctuaries, has over 60 hollies. In pre-COVID times, I would go on the holly walk at the beginning of each December, guided by the director of the Sanctuary, and reacquaint myself with all the hollies. I would go back during the year to the sanctuary and spend time with them. The Holly Walk was one of my favorite things to do since I moved to the Cape. I started it the very first year I moved here.

There’s a good article about the meaning of various Yuletide greens here.

I like holly for protection and luck. When you see a spell call for “bat’s wings” – that is the folkloric name for the holly leaf.

I tried growing small hollies in pots when I first moved here, but they need to be planted in-ground, and they only survived a year or two. When I own my own home and garden, I will try again. The male and female holly need to be planted within 15 feet of each other, and the best time to plant them is in March, according to what I learned on holly walks!

On a personal note, I put up decorations outside last weekend, and on the deck. Some of them will have to come in today, since we are expecting hurricane force winds and a lot of rain. No white Christmas for us this year, but that’s okay. I’m glad to be safe at home.

I wish you peace and joy.

Thurs. Dec. 17, 2020: Snow At Night Makes for a Cozy Day

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Waxing First Quarter Moon in Capricorn

Celtic Tree Month of Elder

Snowy and cold

We had our first substantial snowstorm of the season overnight. Although, so far, it’s not as bad as predicted, it’s heavy, wet snow, and I’m not looking forward to going out there and shoveling later.

Since we were warned about the storm, I did not put up the lights and outdoor decorations yet. That is on the agenda for this coming weekend.

Today, we are tucked home, enjoying the tree and the indoor decorations, reading, and writing, and resting. With the bulk of the stress done for the holiday season – I just have to get the annual inspection for the car done next week, and, yes, with an old car, I’m worried – we can sit back and enjoy. There’s been so much stress and pain in this year, that capturing a few hours of enjoyment here and there is high on the agenda.

One of the things we love is to sit by the fire, with one of our favorite blankets, a good book, the cats, the fire going in the fireplace, and a cup of cocoa or a glass of wine. it’s a simple pleasure, and yet so resonant.

Next Monday is the Solstice, my big celebration, and I’m excited and looking forward to it. Much as I love the dark time of the year, I am ready for the return of light and hope.

Peace, friends.

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