12.23.14 A Winter's Tale

Berries 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
The wave of melancholy brought in on the tide of winter has somewhat receded here, though the pervasive grey and permeating damp nibble little holes in my soul. Do you ever find that the tears induced by chopping onions suddenly turn real? It's as though they lubricate the tracks for old sorrows to come pouring out. This is not always an unpleasant thing and can pass like a sudden squall on an otherwise calm sea. With the holidays upon us, memories lie close to the surface—of Christmases past, of loved ones no longer with us, of times that appear brighter from a distance. We romanticize, we idealize and then, with any luck, we return to the present moment with gratitude. For this is what we have now and it is enough in all its barren beauty, its eternal uncertainty, its yearning and celebration. Come take a little tour of the garden with me and see what charms it holds in these days of the solstice. (And find out who won those caramels!)
Red berries 790 xxx
berried in snow
I found in a corner of the screened-in porch a forgotten bag full of hawthorn berries and crabapples we had gathered ths fall. Oops. The hawthorn  berries had pretty much broken down but the crabapples were amazingly intact. I dumped the whole load out in the yard, thinking some critters would be glad for the snack. No takers so far, but I love the bloody red colors against the snow.
Snowcapped 790 xxx
snow cone
The big puffy shapes of dried hydrangea blossoms add lots of interest to the garden in winter. I love how the snow settles on them in little drifts that reminds me of those cheapie drumstick ice cream treats.
Hydrangea 790 xxx
their lacy fretwork is amazingly durable
Fern 790 xxx
plant skeleton
The big patch of ferns by our front door lies dormant, with just a few skeletons standing as stiff reminders of their frothy green fronds.
Hellebores 790 xxx
hardy soul
The hellebores, though, never die and some varieties will flower even in the depths of winter. There are many legends surrounding this plant, including that witches used it to summon demons.
Print 790 xxx
silent imprint
Tracking, a favorite winter pastime of mine, has not really kicked in yet as our snowfall has been paltry. I've seen much evidence of rabbits in our yard, however, and the print above seems to belong to a cat. Probably a visiting neighbor...
Turkeys 790 xxx
winter convention
Out in the woods, though, the turkeys are congregating. They travel in big flocks at this time of year, no doubt seeking solace in companionship, just like the rest of us.

Thought you might like to know what I'm cooking for Christmas Eve. I wanted to keep it on the lighter side without too many complicated courses. Though tempted to make tamales, which are a family tradition, I went for another Mexican classic. Here's the menu:

Pickled Shrimp (a variation with Mexican spices) with homemade Tortilla Chips & Palomas
Posole (made with pork) with delicious garnishes, including radishes, avocado, cilantro & chopped white onion
Black Walnut Ice Cream with Black Walnut Brittle & Mexican Chocolate Sauce

And as for those caramels? They're going to PRITHA, chosen by random selection. Congrats, Pritha! Email me your mailing address to gluttonforlife@gmail.com. 

Have a lovely, peaceful and relaxing holiday, dear readers! xoxo


Beautiful post, Laura.
Marie on December 23, 2014 at 10:06 am —
Thanks, Marie! xo
laura on December 24, 2014 at 11:25 am —
I am thrilled! :) Lovely post, thanks for it.
Pritha on December 23, 2014 at 11:29 am —
We talked about making tamales, too. But my daughter said she would be happy with turkey with mole negro. With my recent orthopedic issues still limiting the amount of time I can spend in the kitchen I plan to use some mole paste I have from my last visit to Guelaguetza. If the weather permits, I'll smoke the turkey in the bbq.
Zora on December 23, 2014 at 1:26 pm —
Sounds divine!
laura on December 23, 2014 at 2:26 pm —
Pozole is an excellent choice. I've loved hominy since I was a little kid and still crave it. I generally use Frida Kahlo's recipe for red hominy stew. We're going with Ottolenghi's roast chicken with za'atar, french beans with shitake, and roasted cauliflower salad with hazelnuts. Dessert will most likely be a cranberry pecan pie.
Nancy Handler on December 23, 2014 at 5:28 pm —
Just looked up Frida's recipe - it's quite similar to the one I make! Your feast sounds delicious and very festive.
laura on December 23, 2014 at 6:15 pm —
These pictures are so beautiful and a post that does them justice! I'm sitting here in 72 degree next to my xmas lit palm frond and looking at the lovely season you're experiencing. I have to say it looks like Christmas and I bet it feels like Christmas there too!
Louise on December 23, 2014 at 5:32 pm —
Sadly, it's supposed to be quite warm here for the next few days, though we're expecting snow on Sunday. I do love a White Christmas! xo
laura on December 23, 2014 at 6:16 pm —
Your words are like poetry Laura, thank you, especially at this time of the year and all the commercialization surrounding Christmas. Bridget.
Bridget on December 23, 2014 at 6:21 pm —
Thank you, Bridget! xo
laura on December 24, 2014 at 11:24 am —
Gorgeous post. The weather is dreadful for the holidays - your words reach out and soothe. My 25 year-old son is hosting our blended Christmas this year with duck and latkes. Oy, all that oil! But we'll be in the mountains (sans snow) and will take a vigorous hike the next day. Enjoy your holiday, Laura!
Ronnie on December 23, 2014 at 7:04 pm —
The perfect combo! And the hike will balance it all out. xo
laura on December 23, 2014 at 7:25 pm —
I love posole and the walnut ice cream sounds like a nice finish. Happy Nesting.
thefolia on December 23, 2014 at 9:24 pm —
To you, too, in your cozy nest!
laura on December 24, 2014 at 11:24 am —
Like you, I see so much beauty in the drab winter landscapes, but unlike you, I haven't shared my photos, thinking no one would see them as beautiful. Thanks for sharing yours. You've given me confidence to do so!
Elaine on December 23, 2014 at 11:35 pm —
I look forward to seeing them, Elaine!
laura on December 24, 2014 at 11:25 am —
Reading your beautiful post in Sewickely, Pa., in about 60 degree weather! Enjoy your Christmas, Laura! JulieG
Julie Gross on December 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm —
Pure poetry, words and images alike.
Prairie on December 26, 2014 at 1:17 am —
Happy Holidays, Laura! I always love coming back to your blog after some time and finding how similarly we see the world. Thank you for writing and sharing such beautiful photos.
Hannah Jacobson-Hardy on December 27, 2014 at 11:36 am —
Happy holidays to you, Hannah! Thanks for stopping by. xo
laura on December 27, 2014 at 2:22 pm —