Monday, January 14, 2008

Promise of light

This is a long, worrisome winter. But even in these grey January days, there are hopeful signs of light to come. Of renewed life, and the promise of warm sunshine on my shoulder. I don't have to look any further than my garden.

The sun will blaze again, and banish the darkest shadows.

Won't it?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Oh Christmas tree sawdust

I carted the Christmas tree off to the charity tree chipping event this weekend. While most folks dumped their tree and left, I waited, and watched with sadness as the firemen pushed it through the chipper. "So long you pretty little tree. Don't worry, you'll have fun, mulch."

Here in British Columbia we can cut Christmas trees on unoccupied Crown land in most Forest Districts. The only rules are, they have to be growing under power lines or within 3 metres either side of a logging road, or in designated areas set aside and rotated over the years. We head out each year to our "spot" in the Squamish Forest Distict, just off the Squamish main line logging road. I can't tell you any more than that, it's our secret! It's only an hour from Vancouver, and bonus: the Squamish Brew Pub is on the route home.

I am ambivalent about Christmas, but not the Christmas tree. I still feel childish excitement when the tree goes up, filling the house with the smell of the woods; transforming into magic as each light and bauble goes on.

One reason I still love it so much is because of a tradition I started over 20 years ago. Whenever I travel, I shop for a Christmas tree ornament that will remind me of the trip. Sometimes the find is easy, like this one from San Francisco:

And this one from Nova Scotia:

And these ones from Nepal and from Thailand. (Who knew you could find Christmas tree ornaments in Buddhist/Hindu and Buddhist/Muslim countries?)

If I can't find an actual tree ornament, I look for something I can make into one by attaching a little screw eyelet into the top for hanging. That's how I turned these souvenirs that sell in tourist shops in Mexico into treasured Christmas ornaments.

Each Christmas tree is a wonderful reminder of the places I have been in this big, amazing world. As I hang each ornament on a branch (and even when I take them down again) I get to remember gazing at Mayan ruins, a hike up a tropical mountain, or the sight of a cow with a red dot on its forehead sleeping in a busy intersection.

Here are some more of my travel memory decorations, from, in order, Tanzania, London, and Singapore.

My favourite Christmas tree ornament of all is a reminder of a different journey. A long one. The most rewarding, difficult, important, and exciting journey I will ever take. The ornament is home made, and very precious.