I love winter. I love the sense of repose its cold, grey days impart; the delightful pause between the flurry of Christmas and the flurry of spring gardening. January has habitually been my ‘quiet month’, a season of enforced calm that, I find, affects all the rest of my year. There was such a wonderful lack of urgency about this particular January that I’ve conscientously allowed its influence to seep over into February. πŸ˜‰ All the hearthside pleasures have been mine: good books, good food, good friends. We’ve taken to dining more often than not at a wooden folding table by the sitting room fire. I’ve heeded the example of my feline children and indulged in a few afternoon cat naps. To be sure, there’ve been a few bustling Saturdays around here: cleaning out the ‘potting shed’ and sterilizing flats, sowing a garden’s worth of flowers in the basement, pruning the fruit trees and grape vines and roses. But those have been the execption in my winter’s hibernation. Here are some of the things that have made my long January beautiful:    

~Playing the Pride & Prejudice soundtrack on the piano. And this, too…and a loved Haydn sonata that my fingers can still keep pace with after fourteen years (on a good day! ;)).

~A gorgeous new CD that fills my home with the melodies of Oxford.

~Reading Jane Eyre by the fire with the one I love best in the world–and discovering its majesty all over again, as if for the very first time.

~An impromptu dinner party after an equally impromptu jaunt to the farmer’s market with my brother and sister-in-law. We ladies chattered gaily over sliced vegetables and olive oil while the menfolk drew their chairs around the dining room fire like so many English baronets. We talked and told stories and laughed till the candles began sputtering out–always a good sign. πŸ˜‰

~Orange rooibus tea in a blue and white pot with a chipped spout.

~Breakfast in a sunny window at a cafe uptown with a friend that’s really a little sister.

~The paper lace and glitter and ribbon and chocolate and roses that is Valentine’s Day. πŸ™‚

~Another fabulous lecture of Peter Kreeft’s: The Good, the True, and the Beautiful, a discussion of C.S. Lewis’ take on the three transcendentals.

~The much-anticipated performance of one of my favorite symphonies and one of Philip’s favorite violin concertos at Symphony Hall. (If I could select a theme song for my life, I think it would be the Andante movement of this concerto…)

~Singing Ralph Vaughn Williams with girlfriends on a cold Sunday afternoon.

~…And no end of purring cats and pink noses and an eighty pound Australian Shepherd who thinks he’s a lap dog… 

Thank You, Lord…

Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies, for instance. ~Ruskin

~Oh, and the fact that we’re reconsidering the ‘uselessness’ of peacocks ;)…