Carol Jane Remsburg
The dark has come, it's deep and pervasive. The solitary light from the security light on the tall pole illuminates the naked branches of the massive maple tree next to the house. Those branches reach achingly upwards into the blackness. The winds, coming in waves, you can hear them building in force before they come, not moaning, yet more of something filling a chasm of emptiness and coming in a rush to overwhelm.
Over the last five days there have been a session of weather systems back-to-back that, while the temperatures haven't dropped yet—until tonight, they have wreaked havoc on the aging, rheumatic bones in this house. I've been vigil to try to keep the old man from doing anything, anything at all that might trigger another episode. His boredom is extreme, his discomfort running high, and my verbal capacity for entertainment is severely lacking.
I'm a nag, a simple nag, but there you have it.
Today the weather was bright, balmy, and breezy. Okay, it was stronger than breezy, but gale force winds it wasn't. At 50 degrees on New Year's Day it was grand. It was a drying day and I took advantage washing up and putting as many bed linens as the lines would hold to capture the freshness of the day.
I've tried to do all the things I should do on this day. My mother had many traditions, should I say superstitions? I know my mother-in-law has them. I try to abide them all, but it's difficult.
We had no visitors today, but my mother's primary tradition was to have a dark-haired man enter the house, one who didn't live here. Well, that was shot to hell, because nobody came. Actually, I was the only person to go outside and come back in from feeding the outside kitties and man the clothesline.
Yet, today I managed to do MOST of the things I like to do best. That's another one of those traditions. "What you do on New Year's Day is what you'll do all year…."
Let's see, I enjoyed a quiet coffee time with hubby watching the morning news. (We won't address scooping the cat-box repeatedly, that's a given). I took a nice HOT shower to invigorate the body and soul with some lotion to sooth and nourish the aging dry skin of mine. Then came the laundry, all that I couldn't manage this last weekend, most IMPORTANTLY the bed linens. For nearly the entirety of the last month, any day I was home for the day it was RAINING or nearly raining, not conducive to line drying. However, today was PERFECT. It was warmer, not that it counts much, some of my best drying days have been below freezing, but the sun was brilliant and the breeze was strong. Up they went from blankets to t-shirt sheets to dry kissed lovingly by the winds.
Tradition also holds that either black-eyed peas or some
form of cabbage be served and eaten
on today. I could list out an entire
forum of what else should be eaten, 12-grapes,
collards, kale, and cornbread. But I went with what I remember and love best. A big old pork roast (especially since they
had it on
Unfortunately, hubby and teen won't eat my family's version of sauerkraut. Hubby prefers his sans anything, just tart and plain (he got his separately with, HOTDOGS), and well, the teen is picky. Sauerkraut, she'd just as soon choke as eat that. I keep wondering just who she's related to, it can't be me.
I prepped the roast just before noon and put it in the oven in the big roaster surrounding it with the 'kraut, kosher salt, pepper, onion powder, and lots and LOTS of dark brown sugar on a low temp and let it cook the afternoon away filling the house with that tangy/sweet scent of old. It's an intangible thing that crosses decades of memories if you do it right.
This would also have normally been a very cold day, the wood stove burning and Mom would have found a warm spot for her big old pottery bowl she'd greased up with Crisco® and plopped in a blob of bread dough to rise for baking later. Or it could have been her "Parkerhouse" rolls…they were awesome too.
The "traditions" are a little fuzzy in my memory. But I know that a black-haired man had to come into the house. There are so many "traditions" on the books, I'm nearly boggled by them. About two years ago I was quite content to allow the NYE leftovers to be dinner for New Year's Day, I think my MIL nearly had a stroke for there wasn't one bit of "cabbage" in the lot. I had soaked some black-eyed peas to cook up for later, which I did, but they didn't turn out well. I'm not that well-versed in black-eyed peas, but I know Betsy can likely make them well. I just never really tried to make them with any kind of focus.
I looked up traditions today. Can you say "WOW?!!"
Look at these:
Eating noodles at is customary at Buddhist temples in
· A German/Pennsylvania Dutch tradition is to eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year's day for good luck.
It is the tradition
· It is a Cuban tradition to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of . The 12 grapes signify the last twelve months of the year.
· German folklore says that eating herring at the stroke of will bring luck for the next year. Herring Salad recipe.
· Eating pickled herring as the first bite of the New Year brings good luck to those of Polish descent.
In the southern
· One more from the Southerners: eating cornbread will bring wealth.
· The Southern custom of eating greens can be found in other cultures as well, although the cabbage can take many forms, such as sauerkraut or even Kimchi.
Boiled Cod is a New
Year's Eve must in
OlieBollen a donut-like fritter is popular in
· Black-eyed peas, fish, apples, and beets are eaten for luck at the Jewish New Year's celebration (not celebrated on Jan 1).
There is absolutely no way I could accommodate all of those. And while I should have made a fam-fav of wet cornbread, I didn't.
Yesterday was a LONG day, tomorrow will be even a LONGER day, as will be Thursday and Friday. I'm so looking forward to this coming weekend where NOTHING, NOTHING AT ALL, is planned. There is that winter hibernation for months on end that I look forward to. It's that renewal that nature gets that we humans often don't. But I'm taking it, embracing it.
This isn't about boredom, it's about a slow time of quiet. It will be about little things, small things, room by room, cleaning out, caring and savoring.
The cold is coming, the winds may blow, and hell may likely freeze over, but I will love this quiet cold time, embracing what it gifts to us.
Spring will come soon enough, I'll be antsy enough and ready for it as we all will. The seasons shift and for a reason. We need to love them all for the treasures they bring.
Feel blessed for each day, we are lucky to have them.