Friday, December 30, 2016

Black-eyed Peas

Appropriately for New Year's Eve eve, I'm drinking rising sun tea (soleil levant, from Lupicia, purveyors of my usual Happiness blend).

Black-eyed peas—blackeye beans—from Idaho's Snake River Canyon are soaking for soup with collard greens, for New Year's luck (augmented by charms against the evil eye and the gift of guardian bells, twice as effective if given away).

The beans from Idaho summon the memory of my father, also from Idaho, (and a family friend from Texas with her copper samovars and vista of blue Santa Fe mountains, who taught my mother that they need to be prepared each year again to eat on New Year's day); and I have added smoked Spanish paprika and a pinch of Aleppo pepper to the soup to remind me that Aleppo badly needs our help, needs luck in a desperate way. 

All life is there in the simplest ingredients.  All that I am gives flavor to each repast, and I understand that in repast is past relived, tasted again.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Bowl

The Trees of December V

When everyone had gone
I sat in the library
With the small silent tree,
She and I alone.
How softly she shone!
And for the first time then
For the first time this year,
I felt reborn again,
I knew love's presence near.
Love distant, love detached
And strangely without weight,
Was with me in the night
When everyone had gone
And the garland of pure light
Stayed on, stayed on.

—May Sarton, "Christmas Light"

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Peace on Earth

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Trees of December IV

I am always reluctant to let the lights go out, to accept the natural end of things when it's 
time—or past time.  I'd like to freeze both lights and time in motion or before, like photographs, like leaves or flowers caught in ice.

image:  Christmas in Verona

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Trees of December III

Tree deities in different cultures of the world include: Dryads and hamadryads of Greek mythology; Hathor, also called Lady of the Sycamore in the Old Kingdom of Egypt; Kodama and Kurozome, the spirit of the Prunus serrulata (Japanese cherry).

I know from personal familiarity over the years that there's a Christmas tree spirit—the Lady of the Pine, perhaps, or the Balsam Fir god.

Among the nymphs was Pitys, whose duty was to tend pine trees.

Cybele's sacred tree is the pine. Cybele is the earth mother goddess of what is now western Turkey.  (

See also this about the pine.

image:  SulamithW├╝lfing

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Some Dozen Talismans

. green Kenyan beads (dyed seed pods, strung on myriad glass beads and glassy seeds, paying for education there in Africa)
. Guajillo chile pods (to simmer for hours with lean pork and oregano in posole)
. fir sap (indelible on my fingers, making its pungent and poignant way into what I write)
. the smell of grilling Mongolian barbecue (with tables set outside in the afternoon sun, one of those northern California things)
. Handel's "Lascia ch'io pianga" (a song of pain)
. Strauss's lieder "Morgen!" (a song of hope)
. a gift of tangerine flavored balsalmic vinegar in a small slender bottle
. horses being led quietly through the December morning
. Cuban black beans, and the quiet announcement of Fidel Castro's death
. on the night air, the manifestation of peppermint oil
. Walt Whitman after countless time
. a mystery about a pilgrimage to Canterbury, bones and old wives' tales

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Horse and Green Stone