Thursday, January 8, 2009
Ring out the old, ring in the new!
A belated happy 2009 to everyone! My mother always used to stand on the doorstep at midnight on New Year's Eve and say those words, which are part of a poem by Tennyson. "Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky ..." A very magical way to greet the new year, and a tradition I still keep now she's sadly no longer here.
I hope you all had a very good Yule. We were very busy indeed with so many family members either staying or visiting, but it was lovely. One of my new year's resolutions is to stay in closer touch with more members of my extended family. But I'm afraid this blog is going to be a bit of a "grumpy old woman" one - it's about Christmas trees.
I've always had a real tree for Yule. I'm not sure if this is the "greenest" option (and would welcome comments and advice on this) but to me, one of the whole points of this festival is the idea of bringing evergreens into the house, as our ancestors did. Somehow an artificial tree just doesn't fit in with this concept, however perfect it might be. In fact it's the perfection of artificial trees that puts me off. One of the joys of a real Christmas tree is the fact that it is real - with all the imperfections that brings. Maybe a bit wonky on one side, or slightly bald. Each year it's a gamble whether or not you'll find a beautiful one, or have to tart up a rather dodgy specimen.
But ... the past couple of years I have not been happy at all with our Christmas trees. I don't know if this coincides with my move away from Dorset, and the garden centre where I always bought our tree, to Reading - or whether it's a growing trend. You see, one of the very best and most wonderful things about a real Christmas tree is its glorious SMELL! My children feel the same. I just love coming down in the morning and smelling Christmas tree. It brings back childhood memories and to me encapsulates all that I love about Yule.
But the only trees available (in this area at least) are the dreaded Nordman Fir. These used to be a luxury option (totally out of my league) for people who didn't like hoovering up the needles. I've never minded the pine needles - it's all part of Christmas for me. But now it's impossible to find anywhere in Reading that sells the old-fashioned, scented, needle-dropping type - called Norway Spruce, according to the Forestry Commission's website. You can only buy Nordman Firs, which not only don't smell at all, but also look artificial to me. They're not wonky or bald in places. They're bushy and perfect with needles that don't look right and are completely scentless. And they're horrendously expensive.
Does anyone know about this? Is it just Reading or is this a trend throughout the country? When the last two kids still here after Christmas took the tree down for me on Jan 6th, it only took me a few minutes to hoover up the small smattering of fallen needles. I felt cheated!This job used to take forever and often lasted well into the year as new green prickles would appear like magic around the skirting board and under the sofa cushions. I'd be really interested to hear what others think on this subject. Where have all the Norway Spruces gone?
The photo above was taken by one of my most stalwart Stonewylde fans - a wonderful lady from Cornwall called Cornmother. At least that's what she's called on the Stonewylde forum! She makes beautiful corn-dollies, which I believe I've featured on this blog before. She made the ones above as gifts for various Stonewylde fans when we met up in December at the Dartmouth Festival of Healing Arts. Mr B and I brought two home with us and they graced our tree this year. They're now hanging on our twisted hazel branches along with the permanent fairy lights - yes, it's always December 24th in our house! Some things are just too lovely to keep for Yule alone.
I wish all readers of my blog the brightest of blessings for 2009, and look forward to meeting many of you at the Stonewylde Harvest Moon Gathering in September. If you haven't discovered it yet, do come and visit our new community forum at http://www.stonewylde.net
We launched this new meeting place at Yule and it's brilliant now we're all getting to grips with the complexities of it. More about this in another blog - but do come and visit. And let me know about the Christmas tree issue please!
Posted by Kit Berry