blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Friday, December 26, 2014

At Christmas time

Glad tidying we bring 
To you and your kin ...

sang my oldest grandson at school. His mother liked that sentiment and made sure her oven was clean by Christmas Day.

It's a struggle to keep our homes tidy at this time of year, with all the people and things around. The best policy is to do what can be done and not fret about the imperfections, or so we keep telling ourselves.

Chris went down with a bad cold last week but feels better now that he's had the chance to relax. He kept a singing commitment last Monday, despite the remains of his cold, performing a little, unpublished carol my father composed in 1954, a setting of Winds Through The Olive Trees. We had managed to transpose it down a few tones so that it didn't sound quite as etherial as the original; I think my dad had my infant voice in mind when he wrote it. Chris is a bass. It didn't go too badly, though; the audience seemed to like it. The other carol Chris sang was the 15th century university song––The Boar's Head In Hand Bear I ––with its Latin chorus:
  Caput apri defero, redens laudes domino! 
Chris got everyone to join in with that, me at the piano. The other people at the party were his singing teacher's other pupils and their families. Madeleine, aged 9) played a wistful winter piece on the piano, that she had composed herself, rather in the style of a Russian folk song, although the child was puzzled when I told her that, and Chris too took her aside and whispered to her that she was more musical than everyone else in the room put together. Probably true!

Jonas, with some of Bob's trees!
I remember being one of four musical children at Christmas––the others were my sister, my friend and classmate Sarah and her sister Sue, the youngest of us. Sue was a 9-year-old composer too, in those days, and has since became Director of Music at the University of Kent.

At Christmas I always think of people from the past, and receive cards and letters which I can't bear to throw away.

The weekend before Christmas we'd driven across the snowy wastes east of Ottawa to Bourget to pick up some Christmas tree branches (I didn't want to come home with a whole tree––the branches serve the purpose well enough: see my photo above) and spent a few hours there with our friends, Tracey and Bob giving us their usual warm welcome. Young Jonas joined the party too, this year, and enjoyed his impromptu maths tutorial from Chris, it seems.

We had Carol, Elva, Laurie, Jill and John here on Christmas Eve and Barbara with us for the Christmas Day supper, which meant I spent lots of time in the kitchen betweenwhiles, preparing food. It was worth it for the sake of such good company. We're going to miss John and Jill during the next few months who are just about to set off in John's single-engine Piper Comanche (C-FOIB) from Ottawa to Victoria, BC, an adventure that should take about 20 hours of flying time, depending on the winds. To do this journey in summer would be exciting enough. To do it in winter in such style will be quite extraordinary. They're raring to go and when they do, I'll be following their progress avidly. Fortunately, John is a very experienced pilot.

The weather's remarkably mild at the moment, +5ºC today, all the snow and ice melting and the soil starting to thaw. Today, after a walk through woods and slushy fields above Wakefield with Elva, I came home and did half an hour's worth of gardening! Because of the date, December 26th, that fact did deserve the exclamation mark. Then this evening I did my 30 lengths at the Château Laurier (indoor) pool again. I want to keep in shape because we have now booked our next visit to Sydney, Australia, and I'll certainly want to go swimming while we're there.

No comments: