Freeing the trees with Harry Potter, Glinda and Snow White

The regal fir tree in our backyard was beaten and downtrodden after the snowstorm that whipped through our area. Its mighty branches were weighted down from the base of the trunk to the pine needles at their very tips. The bottom ones were bent so low they were splayed on the ground. From behind the patio doors, my fertile imagination placed me at the centre of a Harry Potter scenario.

An evil wizard had put a hex on the tree. “Help me, please,” the tree pleaded. Its branches were trapped beneath a web of heavy, white foam that was tightly wrapped around them. With the help of the wind, the tree struggled valiantly to free itself, but to no avail.

Like Harry , I had to do something! Quickly, I put on my boots, coat, hat and mitts and trudged in the knee-deep snow to the base of the tree.  I had no magic wand and I thought shouting “Expecto Patronum!” would have the neighbours muttering about the crazy woman next door. Instead, I morphed into  elegant Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. I didn’t have a  glamorous, glittery gown or a shiny headpiece, but I more than made up for it in good intentions.

I gently shook one of the lower branches. Like magic, the foam web dissolved, transforming into a beautiful layer of thick, white snow. Freed of its burden, the branch soared majestically upward sending snow tumbling down on my head, face and clothes. At the same time, I heard a soft, low rumble, like the sound of a mini-avalanche that ended in a soft sigh. I think the tree whispering “Thank you!”

I continued liberating every branch I could reach and each one sprang gracefully back to life. Somewhere in his hidden lair, I imagined the evil wizard screaming “No! No!”  as he cursed me. But then, like Snow White, I was sure bluebirds were trilling and squirrels and other forest creatures were doing a happy dance. All was well with the world.

Hope Springs Eternal

Yesterday we woke to snow falling fast and furious, covering the bare ground in a thick white carpet. But it quickly changed to big, fat snowflakes floating lazily down from a fluffy, pewter-gray cloud ceiling. By mid-morning, the sun had elbowed the clouds away and shone brilliantly in a sky so blue it almost hurt to look at it.

The call of the outdoors was irresistible and I pulled on my boots, coat and mitts and called, “Going for a walk!” to Ben, who was absorbed in the newspaper. I pulled the door shut behind me and stepped into the crisp, clean air.  Everywhere I looked, fresh snow coated the roofs of houses and clung, like a pristine cape, to the trees.

Neighbours shoveling walkways waved and wished me Happy New Year as I passed. I heard the ring of a family laughing in their backyard and imagined them building  a snow man together.  At a local park, children in colourful snowsuits trudged up a snow-laden hill, their bright red, blue and yellow plastic sleds fluttering behind them. Others shrieked with pure joy, as they sledded to the bottom, only to clamber off their sleds and make their way up for another run.

The outside world had been transformed to a real-life holiday card. Much of December, including Christmas Day, had been a dreary, bleak, wet affair. That ever-present film of mist had seeped into my thoughts and moods, so that I viewed the world through gray-tinted glasses. Now, magically, with one beautiful winter day, Mother Nature gave me back my clear vision.

This year is filled with so much hope for the entire planet. If this one, perfect day gifted to us is a sign of things to come, we will be just fine. Happy New Year.

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest.
The soul, uneasy, and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”

― Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

Final Word on Christmas 2020 – Part 2: A Merry Covid Christmas

IF YOU MISSED PART 1, YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.

The cooler stood where we had placed it on the kitchen floor the night before. I quickly peeled and cut a large butternut squash into cubes that I placed in a stainless steel bowl. After drizzling them with olive oil and sprinkling them with salt and pepper, I plunged my hands into the bowl and mixed everything together. When every cube was shiny and slick with oil, I laid them on a parchment-lined baking sheet,  added brittle, fragrant needles of dried rosemary and slid the baking sheet into the oven.

Then I got to work frosting the brownies baked the day before.  I cut them into squares and decorated each one with a cluster of green pistachio nuts or a single, plump, perfect raspberry.

On Christmas Eve, Ben and I made a turkey dinner even though it was just the two of us. We planned it that way because we knew there would be plenty of leftovers. So I pulled out two good dinner plates and placed a serving of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and roasted veggies on each and carefully covered them in plastic wrap.  Then I prepared 2 containers of cranberry sauce and two of gravy and popped everything in the cooler.

Two gift bags stood on the kitchen table. A small box of chocolates, each chocolate individually wrapped in shiny gold paper went into each.  Next came Mason jars filled with my creamy, fresh butternut squash soup, the colour of a fiery-orange, fall sunset. The gold caps of the jars were topped with a red bow for the occasion. Finally, I printed two copies of the Christmas Dinner Menu I had created, rolled them up like scrolls, tied a festive gold ribbon around them and popped them into the bags. We were ready to roll!

With the cooler in the trunk and the gift bags on the back seat, Ben and I hit the road. Our first stop was our son’s house. When I had placed the food on his porch, I rang the bell and hurried back down the steps.  “Did you bring a full Christmas dinner?” he asked. “Sweet!”

It was grey but the rain had stopped and the temperature was mild. Perfect weather for a physically distanced outdoor Christmas morning chat.  At the end, I blew him a kiss and we moved onto our daughter’s.

We met her in the city and joined her for a masked, physically-distanced walk with her dog. “Did you make Christmas dinner even if it was only the two of you?” she asked.  I nodded that yes, we had.

“What did you make?” 

“You’ll see,” I answered.

“I’ve been dreaming of a turkey dinner and you brought me one!” she said when we reached her home and unloaded the goodies from the car.

On the ride home, I felt at peace.  It wasn’t a traditional Christmas but we had found a way to make it work. And I can’t ask for more than that.