The Return of Light


Whatever you seek
Is already within you
Waiting to wake up.

***

The winter solstice, which was on December 21st,
marks the shortest day of the year and the official beginning of winter.
But from this time on, we shall be getting a little more daylight each day until the month of June.

In different countries all over the world,
there are different ways of celebrating the return of light.

Just one of them is from Persia which I find very lovely.
In keeping with ancient tradition, Persians celebrate Shab-e-Yalda
to honour the victory of Mithra, the Sun God,
 who symbolizes light, goodness and strength.

Shab-e Yalda is still celebrated by Iranians all over the world today.
Friends and families unite to feast and read poetry, especially the Sufi poet, Hafiz.
Fires are burnt all night to defeat the darkness.
With the return to light, after the winter solstice,
transformation occurs and goodness triumphs.

***

"Awake my dear.
Be kind to your sleeping heart.
Take it out into the vast fields of Light
and let it breathe."
Hafiz.

***

Links for you to follow if you wish to know more:



Boxing Day

When my brother and I were younger.
Boxing Day was the day we had to write our thank-you letters
for the Christmas presents we had received.

It was also a day to relax with no hassle in the kitchen
as there were always enough delicious leftovers to see us through the day.

Today, my daughter and grandson came over for lunch
and to exchange presents.
I seemed to spend the whole morning in the kitchen
but the meal was good  and  made all the work worthwhile.

It's traditional to make mince pies over Christmas
and they are served warm, fresh out of the oven.

When I was on my own again,
there was all the washing up to see to.
I do not own a dishwasher.
That job seemed to go on for a long time.

Now I'm getting used to the contrast of having visitors over
and getting back into routine of being on my own again.
I don't dislike the solitude
as it enables me to really be me
to get in touch with who I really am at my core.

However, I do enjoy the company of other folk too
and sometimes it's really nice to be invited 
and not always be the hostess!

I do notice that many people prefer to be invited rather than invite,
have you noticed that too?

So on this Boxing Day,
I shall put up my feet, pick up some handiwork
and look at a recorded film.
I also have a new book to start
which is waiting for me on my bedside table!

I hope that you are enjoying a more peaceful aftermath of Christmas.
It feels so good, doesn't it?


Savouring the Season

These little elves come out every year before Christmas
I love their simplicity and the fact that they're made of twigs!
I have a really cute little film for you to look at HERE
It's the story of Stick Man and his family at Christmas!

It's also the time of the year when I love to get together with my grandson
for card-making and crafting.
Creating memories together of our own little traditions over the years.
We chat and laugh together, enjoying each other's company.
I am happy that he still loves coming to do crafting with me.

Here is the finished card he made and this one is for me!
It's a beautiful Zentangle bauble.

We also made some Origami fir trees.
I put these two at the base of my Christmas tree in the snow!

If you would like to make these Origami trees,
Just click here for an easy tutorial: ORIGAMI FIR TREE

An exciting parcel arrived this week.
It contained four beautiful jars in different colours and containing
sweet smelling candles with natural non-toxic ingredients.
They are a thoughtful Christmas gift from my son 
who will not be with us for Christmas this year.


A brief overnight snowfall covered the little pansy buds on my balcony,
but the snow soon melted in the morning sun.
We shall not be having a white Christmas down here,
only up higher and in the mountains.

I hope that you are savouring the special moments of the season
and taking the time to live each one to the full
even it this tends to be a very busy time of the year for many.

Heartfelt Wishes

There are personal wishes
and universal wishes.

I sat down the other day to see if what I really desired at this time of the year
was anything to do with the usual stressful ambiance of the Christmas season
which seems to be happening  around me, but not within me.
Oh yes,
I love creating decorations with crochet and hook
a few bells 
a candle or two
and beautiful music,
but more than any material gift
I desire the presence of peace and harmony.

On a universal level, like most people, I would like world peace
that no one should suffer from hunger 
and that we would all take responsibility for climate change.

One of the things that we can all do
is to focus on abundance instead of lack
for it leads us to the path of contentment.

What are the most important things for you during this month of December?
Have you tried making a list of your most heartfelt wishes?

A Weekend in Zermatt

The River Vispa runs through the village of Zermatt and the pointed summit of this mountain
can be seen just about everywhere you go in the village.

The Matterhorn is probably the most well-known and recognizable mountain in Switzerland.
I recently spent a long weekend in this mountain village
and this is the view we had from the hotel balcony.
The rising sun hits the side of the snow-powdered rocky surface.

Different times of the day create different moods and they were a constant source
of never-ending fascination.

There were other things to see of course,
like beautiful chalets and pretty red shutters and seasonal decorations.

Bars and cafés often have outside seating with sheepskin rugs
and thick warm blankets to keep warm in the crisp, cold air.

Many of the chalets are very old and have a great deal of charm.

The older the chalet, the darker the aged wood becomes, like this one above.
I have a special fondness for draped sheer curtains!

The hotel we stayed in is basically a big chalet with a modern wing which
is the reception, breakfast room and restaurant.
The hotel is very nicely placed just slightly out of the centre, 
but with an easy ten-minute walk to the station. 

Only electric vehicles are allowed here
and the air is beautifully pure.

This view just takes my breath away.

The Matterhorn is 4.478 metres high.
The German word 'Matte' means valley or meadow and 'Horn' means peak.

Here is the main church called St. Maurizius

This is the view you get as you come down the steps from the church

The front view from the steps on the old chalets and another mountain range.

One last shot of this iconic mountain at sunset when the sky was just turning
a shade of lavender.
We were so lucky with the weather which was sunny and quite cold.
On the last morning, it was -10 degrees Celsius,
but the average temperature during our stay was around -6C.

I really want to go back here again, but in the summer months so that we can do 
more hiking and enjoy the Alpen flowers.



Scene & Story: November 2017

KEEPING IN TOUCH


Dear Friends,

How have you all been this year?

Have you embraced the unexpected?
Have you got out of your comfort zone at least once?
What have you understood about life?
What have you learnt?

Do you sometimes ask yourself where you're going? I do.
Am I going where I need to go or am I struggling against the natural flow because I wanted things to be different than they were? Life is not always smooth. Situations are not always ideal.

Each new day brings us life experiences from which we can learn. It is our choice to accept the things that come our way, or not. Sometimes, we're allowed to say "No" when things have gone too far in the wrong direction.

We're allowed to take a pause and look within to be able to make the right choices. We can recognize that they are not always the same choices as others. That's quite alright. We are allowed to be different.

So towards the end of November, I look back at my own year and ask myself these very questions. It's also the perfect time to get out my coloured cards and rubber stamps and my address book and prettiest postage stamps and write to family and friends. A lighted candle brings in the right sort of mood and sets the tone.

So wherever you are, whatever your life experience right now, just know that it's where you are meant to be. How do you know that? Well, because that's where you are!

May we find the courage to face the difficult moments and the generosity in our hearts to be there for others when they need a helping hand. 

Keeping in touch with others, but also with ourselves.

My very warmest winter wishes!

Sandra


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I'm linking up with  Scene & Story hosted by Sarah and Lee

Getting Closer to the Mountains

Dent de Jaman and Rochers de Naye

A day out on the most beautiful day of this week
took me closer to the mountains in my area.
I took the funicular up as far as it would go, to a place called Mont Pélerin.

Many years ago, I climbed that thumb-shaped mountain on the left.
Going up was fine, but coming down the steep side was quite a challenge.
Luckily for me, a very kind, experienced mountain climber
gave me some excellent tips and helped me find stable footholds!

The snow on the summits was quite fresh
 and looked so striking against the blue of the sky.

Pulling back to get in a wider scene with the villages below.

The Lake Léman is included in this capture
and the range of mountains in the background is called
Les Dents du Midi which has seven summits.
This range is situated in the Chablais Alps in the Swiss Canton of Valais.
They reach a height of 3257 metres.

Here is a closer view.

Since the sun goes down rather quickly in the afternoons now,
I was able to capture the warm lighting on the same mountains
as I walked down to the next funicular stop to reach the lake.

These two towers are called:
Tour de Mayen and Tour d'Aï.
They are situated in the canton of Vaud where I live.
The atmosphere changes completely as the sun goes down.

I love how the sun catches certain edges of the steep slopes and makes them look so majestic.

I managed to catch the vibrant colours of the sunset
which lit up the lake in tones of gold and orange.
A perfect end to a lovely day!

When I'm in the mountains, at any time of the year, I feel as if I'm in a magical world
away from all the noise, the people, the traffic.
It feels as if I'm communing with Nature
as if I am connected to everything around me
and not just a spectator.



Getting Snug at Home

This is the time of the year when everything feels more transitional than usual.
November days alternate between blue skies and sunshine,
rain, wind and low stratus clouds making everything look dull.

I cut the last two flowers on my Gaillardia plant
and brought some colour inside.

This is the month when colour becomes incredibly important to me
I seek it out in everything I do
especially when I'm in the kitchen.

Preparing vegetables for lunch
Colour is so important in preparing a meal.

Many of the trees are already bare,
but a visit to the park on a sunny day
showed me these lovely beech leaves still glowing in a golden light.

Fallen leaves remind me to be accepting of the season.
They never fight the reality of what is happening to them and all around them.
The path to contentment is being willing to be in the moment,
just as it is,
for now.

The evenings are longer
and I love them to be able to create seasonal things 
like these crocheted snowflakes.

I have hung some up against the windows in my living-room.
No real snowflakes falling from the sky as yet,
but that could all change this weekend it seems.

I brought this cyclamen flower inside from my balcony
I love the simplicity of a single bloom in the tiny vase.

We have been having some beautiful sunsets.
I saw this one in my neighbourhood as soon as I got of the bus around 5 pm.
Look at the tiny crescent moon in the blue of the sky.

Pastel shades are a great favourite of mine too.
I stayed in this spot until the colours faded.

It will soon be December
and there will be fairy lights and music 
and candles too.
But for today, just enjoying this transitional period
shows me that everything is just as it should be. 

I hope you are enjoying the changing season too.



Leaf Philosophy

"Shall we let go?"
said the leaf on the left
"Not yet"
said the leaf on the right.
"Rain is on the way" said their fallen sisters, already lying on the ground.
"You will join us soon enough. It is our destiny."
"So be it", said the two leaves still hanging onto the branch.
"We will accept the wind and rain which will take us onto the next part of our life's journey."

A hedgehog scuttled by in the early morning, muttering to himself,
still looking for the perfect spot to hibernate!

A black car in the street
 wishing it had been sprayed another colour
Wish granted!

The golden Ginkgo leaves released themselves from the tree, their mother,
like excited children leaving the nest with a flourish of anticipation.
A friendly crevice in the stone steps gave them shelter
until they decided what to do next!

The beech trees in the park yesterday
were releasing their leaves like zigzagging butterflies doing their love dances in the spring.

All the elements of nature
so closely connected
creating the cycle of life.
The earth in which a young sapling grows into a sturdy tree
tiny buds form on branches and then leaves fall in autumn
and create compost which nourishes the roots of the tree.

The days are much shorter and the longer evenings give us more time
 to be creative
to reflect
to read
to be at one with the season.