As I’ve written before, Woody and I began putting up a tree the year my mother died. She had little to leave to me, my own books I’d given her, a jade necklace and a box of Christmas ornaments. My mother, like me, was Jewish, but she loved bright things. She enjoyed a gaudy tree with many ornaments and colored lights. When I returned with her ashes,[my father had her cremated against her wishes] for the first time in my adult life, we chopped down a bushy pitch pine on our land ,then decorated it with the ornaments she had left me, shells I drilled holes in and some of my costume jewelry.
The tree we got today is as always is a balsam. I love the scent of balsam. It is the bushiest tree we’ve ever had. Immediately our oldest and smallest cat Mingus ran under it. He remembers. Our most timid cat Willow was actually the second and joined him almost the minute the tree was up. Sometime this weekend we’ll put on lights but no ornaments until Tuesday next week as we want the cats to get used to it and if they’re going to try to climb it, better to let them do it now.
We have many ornaments, mostly birds, animals of all kinds and vegetables and fruit ornaments—some I bought on sale the day after Xmas and some friends have given us over the years. Melenie gave us a big gorgeous red glass pomegranate at thanksgiving for the tree. i always love seeing the ornaments from my childhood and from previous years as we unpack them during the week and add them to the tree. I’m looking forwd to it. It’s always a job moving furnitgure around to accommodate the tree in our fairly small livingroom. I don’t know who enjoys the tree more: us or the cats. This morning all the cats are playing under the tree, totally absorbed in each other and the new forest in the livingroom. I’ve had cats who absolutely mourned when the tree is taken down on January first.
I opened my annual juried intensive poetry workshop three days ago on Facebook and already seventeen mss. have come in. I responded to the first three within 24 hours, but now I’m going to have to read them in a more spread out manner. I always read and reread each five poem manuscript unless it’s obviously doggerel. I’m hoping to stay on track with reading them. I also promised to read the manuscript of a novel and a full length book of poems by one of my previous workshop participants , with whom I’m in a poetry group that meets at my house once a month. I don’t know when I’ll get to those as I have to give priority to the submissions to my workshop. I don’t like to make poets wait more than 2 or 3 weeks, but as the volume increases [and Poets and Writers zine with our classified in it won’t even come out for three weeks or so] it sometimes takes me a month to catch up and make a decision on each one that comes in via email or snail mail. I’ve already had two good ones I accepted at once.
Winter feels very early, too early this year. On the Cape we have been accustomed to the first storm being around the solstice and veggies into December. Not this year Woody rescued what he could of Swiss chard and tomorrow will bring in what remains of our leeks. I’ve been using the bok choi and Chinese cabbage as much as I can. I made a great lamb shank rosemary cannellini bean dish last night. it cooked for two and a half hours on top of the stoveuntil it was very tender.
Williow is bold and adventurous at the moment. The tree did not scare her the way strange people coming in do; in fact, she seems delighted by it. She has come back to my bed at night. Is very playful. So that’s one worry diminished. I always worry whether I’ll get enough good poets to hold the workshop. The really bad manuscripts are depressing. The good ones make me excited and full of joy for their talent.
Most of our outdoor work is done. Woody has to hill up what roses have survived our terrible summer drought of the past two years. I know that the Radler double red knockouts over Puck and Sugar Ray thrived because we both watered them as they’re in an area that’s irrigated. The other roses aren’t. Being on a well, we could do little to help the others survive.