Audrey's Christmas Letter "2003"
|December 23, 2003
The sheep ran huddling together against the hurdles blowing out thin nostrils and stamping with delicate forefeet, their heads thrown back and a light steam rising from the crowded sheep-pen into the frosty air, as the two animals hastened by in high spirits, with much chatter and laughter. They were returning across country after a long day's outing with Otter, hunting and exploring on the wide uplands where certain streams tributary to their own river had their first small beginnings; and the shades of the short winter day were closing in on them, and they had still some distance to go. -- They found a beaten tract that made walking a lighter business, and responded, moreover, to that small inquiring something which all animals carry inside them, saying unmistakably, 'Yes, quite right, this leads home!' This is the beginning paragraph to the chapter Dulce Domum from the book The Wind in the Willow. It is a story I read to myself every Christmas. Home, the place people want to be at Christmas, with friends and family and loved ones.
The Wind in the Willow was a favorite book of the Wyeth family and no one enjoyed Christmas more then that family. This year the Farnsworth Museum has a special show of a Wyeth Christmas. The gallery is beautifully decorated with lights, many fir trees and wrapped packages. The paintings hanging on the walls by NC, Andrew, and James are winter and holiday scenes. Betsy made stuffed toys of all the characters from the Wind in the Willow, displayed in a winter setting. There are many cards and drawings using the characters as well. A castle made by one of the boys and painted by NC is displayed with a full array of toy medieval knights. There is a large electric train set with buildings all set up for the Christmas season. In one corner is a 8 foot hollow tree in which lives many owls, all dressed warmly, peeking out of lighted holes. Snow on the ground and other small trees with bare branches, creates a woodland scene all bathed in a soft blue light, giving the feeling of twilight. On the island where Jamie lives there is a light house He had a model made of the house and everything on the island and this remarkable reproduction is displayed on a large table in the middle of one of the rooms. All the rooms in the house are furnished, with dishes on the table and clothes hanging in the closets. There are electric lights from tiny lamps and everything is so perfect you feel like you're in the land of Gullivers Travels. As I traveled around this exhibit all the pleasures of childhood were rekindled. For me Christmas is the time to be childlike, to believe in magic and miracles, to feel joy and wonder.
You might think me strange to like the dark days of winter. In some past time eons ago I celebrated the Yule, in a land of snow and ice, I sat by a fire watching the flames curl around a special log giving warmth and light. I must have looked into the night sky, knowing that the solstice had come and that the sun was returning.
I bring the fir tree into the house, a living green tree and its life fills the rooms with its scent. Every Christmas it is just as wonderful.. The feeling is peaceful, and I am so thankful that I can enjoy it. The house is a visual feast of pleasure. I bring out all my treasures, and set them up on the tables, with fir branches, pine cones, and wild rose hip twigs for color along with gold balls and winding ribbon. There is a candle in every window and real candles on the table.
This year we have a new wood stove with a glass door and being able to see the fire has added more pleasure to the ambiance of the room. There is a feeling, something I cannot explain about being warm and protected when it is cold outside. I can come in from the cold and sit beside the wood stove and let the heat sink into my body. What is it that is so appealing about watching fire, the flames moving, the glow of the coals, the smell. It is much nicer then just coming into a heated room.
December 25, 2003
The Church Charlie plays the piano for had a candle light service at 4:30 Christmas eve. Before going to the church we stopped at Fernald's the old "Five and Dime" store, that has an open house party each year. It was crowded with local towns people. A whole family with beautiful blond hair, mother, daughters and grandparents were playing some Irish type songs along with traditional Christmas music. People would sing along with the familiar songs. There was oyster stew and eggnog. Everyone was enjoying the gathering. When we got home, Doug was there and shortly after our neighbors arrived. There were seven at the table. We ate and talked until about eleven o'clock. After everyone left I walked our dog Mocha. At midnight the handle of the big dipper is straight down. The growing quarter moon had set and Orion moving toward the west is high in the sky. The clear sky and the vastness of space is crowded with lights and life beyond our comprehension, and yet we are connected to it all. Back in the house before going to bed I sat alone with all the animals on the couch and enjoyed for a few minutes the atmosphere of the room. It is the first day of Christmas.
January 1, 2004
December's weather was erratic, four Northeasters with howling winds, first snow, then rain, snow, rain. Christmas week was warm and the ground bare. Today New Years day is warm and sunny. I called Chris and it is snowing in Eugene OR, six inches. Snow is rare there.
In last years letter I described Christmas in Eugene. There was a big snow storm on the east coast on Christmas day and another storm came soon after we got back to Waldoboro. That was the setting for one of the coldest winters I have experienced. Spring was equally cold and wet. It was so bad that I didn't plant a garden. It was 60 degrees the end of June then July came in with a heat wave. As cold, wet and foggy as June was the fields at night were filled with fireflies. I walked the dog some nights in pitch dark, nothing visible but the lights of fireflies. Can you imaging the feeling that creates, hundreds of little lights flickering off and on moving all over the field. There is nothing more magical. The wet spring also brought frogs. The songs of the peepers began at sun set, and by night walking by the swamp the sounds were deafening. There were frogs everywhere, in every wet gully, every low wet spot. I even found some in the house. They croaked and carried on until spring came to an abrupt end and the heat of summer began.
The procession of changing wild flowers was spectacular, Buttercups Daisies, Lupine, Wild Roses, Queen Ann Lace, Rag Weeds and Asters The fall color was also great and the leaves seemed to stay on longer, oaks, some maples and birch into November.
My show at the Art Association was scheduled at the end of July. I did OK , saw old friends, some I hadn't seen in years. It was hot. I took swims in the river when I could. I stayed at Doug's apartment for the week. It was good to be with him.
Chris came out for a week in late October. Unfortunately it rained a lot so we had to paint in the studio. On one of the good days Doug and Chris installed the new wood stove. It didn't take them long at all. It wasn't cold enough to use the stove but Doug had to fire it up and we admired it's beauty as we sweated in the heat. We also had an early Thanksgiving dinner that Chris and I cooked. Our neighbors the Slawsons came over to share the meal
Most of the painting I did was down by the shore, my favorite subject being the rocky shoreline, and I could slip into the water for a swim when I got hot. I am so thankful that we found this place to live, twenty years ago this January.
Charlie and I are healthy, but the energy is going. I can still climb over the rocks but with much more care. The time flies by and I ask myself, "What did I accomplish today?" I walked the dog, cooked the meals and I fell asleep watching TV. I sit down for five minutes and one half hour goes by.
As I get older my new justification concerning time is "Wasting time is only wasted if it is not appreciated." Watching the clouds, sitting by the shore as the tide moves in or out or walking through a field when the wind moves the tall grass, is time spent that brings pleasures. I have always believed life should be enjoyed, however all the time I've wasted I still appreciate, and to complicate things more I learned the Indians have no word for time. When I was young I never thought about time. Now that the hour glass is running out, I need to keep painting, trying to express my true feelings with the skill I have.
In the spring Charlie was contacted by a women that has written the words for a musical and she needed someone to write the music. The script is based on an early English story called Beowulf. This is just what Charlie needed. He has written over 30 songs and a musical score for the instruments. This production will be put on at the Waldo Theater late Spring. The talent may not be as good as a Broadway production but I do believe the music will be as great as any music written for a musical. Few people realize the talent that Charlie possess, nor do they know the knowledge and creativity he has to have written this music.
It is interesting to note about talented people that for the ones that get recognized that there are many more just as good or better that never get recognized. It saddens me because I am married to a great composer whose music will be heard by only a few people.
The past year was not a good year for the world. By now a great many people realize that Emperor Bush the lesser and his wealthy friends are trying to dominate the world, to control the money and make sure it stays in the hands of the wealthy and they will do this at any cost, regardless of the consequences. How long they can get away with this depends on us. The amazing reaction when Bush declared war on Iraq was millions of people all over the world took to the streets in protest of war. Not only did they protest war but many other injustices. Here in the US people in small towns stood on bridges, met at town halls, called their Senators and took buses across the country to demonstrate together with thousands of others, NO to WAR. The press controlled by big business lied about the numbers at these gatherings, in NY city, Washington, Canada, London. The truth got out over the Internet and small radio stations, broadcasting like Free Speech Radio, and Democracy Now. There are great men among us now, speaking up, writing books, talking at Universities, speaking at the demonstrations urging us to act.
Christ said forgive them for they know not what they do. We, who think we are awake are angry, outraged, we judge, we condemn. This is not the way. Justice will come to them, Their own actions will weigh them down like Jacob Marley's chains. Marley said to Scrooge, "I made the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link." Scrooge said "You were a good man of business." Marley replies "Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"
We still have the right to vote, and to act in a just way. Every person makes a difference. Treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself is still the universal law, respect and honor life.
The ways of Christ's teachings were known long before he came to earth. These teachers come to keep us on the Red Path. Christ stands for light and love. Edward Said died this last fall. He was a scholar, activist, intellectual, author, and a great fighter for the voiceless victims around the world. A friend and writer interviewed him just before his death and when they parted the writer hugged him and said, "I love you." Said answered "yes love that is all that matters."
Christmas is not over in our house. The tree and decorations will remain up for another week. Everyone should be given at least a week off from work to celebrate Christmas, and they should celebrate as it is meant to be celebrated, in appreciation and thankfulness of nature, with knowledge that as the earth rests and rejuvenates, the sun, our source of heat and life is each day bringing more light. and that the light of Christ is in us, and that it too will overcome the darkness.
Best Wishes to all,
For more information, please contact:
Audrey Bechler 968 Backcove Rd. Waldoboro, ME 04572 1-207-6832-6806
Layout, Design, and Revisions ©2003 by Douglas Bechler...... Revised, Jan. 31, 2003