embers and sparks

IMG_57482014 has blown in with a mighty gasp of shivery-cold air and frequent flurries of snow. Some days, we have a clear path out of our cul-de-sac and on to school and work. Other days, a post-dinner phone call announces a dangerous winter weather advisory and renders the next day’s plans to naught. And so we burrow, snuggle, cozy in deep, burying ourselves under blankets, books, yarn, and, yes, our digital toys, coming up only for sips of tea or nips from the cupboard. Or, rather, that’s what we yearn to do until the chores can no longer be ignored or Shane’s restlessness prompts us all out of the house in search of self- or home-improvement.

Betwixt and between savoring the tail end of our winter break and trying to get a toe hold on a new year, I’d been making sporadic attempts to blog and ran into repeated dead ends trying to load any new photos to my old site:  http://aprairieporch.blogspot.com. So, here I will start anew. I hope that you will join me and my family here for a recording of parts of our journey through life — one that, if it’s done well, will emphasizes our blessings and reminds us, on the days that are not so easy, that we have fellow travelers that we love and who love us who will help us through.

An especially cherished group of women in my life are those who comprise my book club. Several years after forming, we still do not have a collective name, and the active membership has changed a little bit as we strive to meet all of life’s challenges in this busy phase of life. We thought in 2012 that the level of tumult had perhaps reached its height, but in retrospect, 2013 was just as demanding. The number of books we read declined a little more; sadly, our meeting dates diminished in frequency, too. The silver lining might be that I think the little threads that make up our friendships within the group have not frayed at all. I think we could tally many occasions when one of us was right at hand to help another mend her own, personal, loose ends. In the end, I believe that what underlies the desire to begin a shared interest group like our book club is the need to hold onto a common thread with similarly-minded people who can help us see the pattern, pick up where we leave off, yet who also introduce new colors and textures into our days.

We met last week at Anne’s home to bid a real adieu to 2013. We each filled up scraps of paper with scribbles of remorse and regret, the bits of the last year that we didn’t care to hold onto any longer, knowing that doing so would cast an unnecessary cloud over the future. One by one, the papers were folded and dropped into the fire, where they quickly turned into embers, then ashes. The fire blazed and popped, sparks frequently leaping onto the hearth in attempts of a singular, albeit short-lived, glow.

Here, a list of the books that were stacked on our nightstands in 2013 for club review and discussion:

  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • Quiet by Susan Cain
  • selected readings by and about Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  • Rapt by Winifred Gallagher
  • The Doctor’s Wife by Luis Jaramillo