Audrey's Christmas Letter "2001"
It is a week before Christmas. The weather has finally become more seasonable, and there is a little snow on the ground, that hasn't frozen yet. I am still getting greens from the garden, even broccoli shoots.
This summer around the end of July i went to the shelter and came home with a five month old puppy. It has been enjoyable to watch him play and investigate everything, chasing his tail, leaping after butterflies or fireflies, running for the joy of it, Chewing is constant so I give him balls, wood, rags and leather bones. I can not let him loose so we get our exercise together. I use a retractable 20 foot leash so he has a little freedom to run around me. Mocha is part hound and boxer and he has his nose to the ground most of the time. He likes digging for mice and moles in the field, something the neighbors would not appreciate if he went into their yards.
Getting Mocha has caused changes in my daily living, walking more and being outside when normally I wouldn't go out. With the sun setting around 4 :30 most of my walking is in darkness. I have watched sun sets and moons rising. I have experienced fog and mists risings from the fields, silhouettes of trees and houses black against a sky that is sometimes cloudless and stars bright, and sometimes clouds lighter then the velvet void, sweeping across the moon. The night sky is remarkable. I feel like I'm on the edge of a timeless never-ending space, the pale path of the milky way, our universe, and scattered and ordered patterns of stars named by man long ago when our distant relatives looked up to the heavens as I do now. The big dipper stands on is's handle, each star distinct in the empty space about the pole
This time of year the lights are not just in the sky. My neighbor, across and up the street has lights on all his roof lines ,around the windows across the porch, up the flag poll, and around the bushes. They blink on and off and are a rainbow of colors. These lights go up soon after he takes down the glowing pumpkins and orange and green lights of Halloween. I walk past his house and then father down the road is the large snow-man with huge red candles on either side. I rather enjoy these beacons of lights on my nightly walks and I am sure the children of the area love to see these decorations. When I come back up our driveway I can look at our house that has a white candle in every window, and through the windows inside the Christmas tree lights add their glow to the scene so beautiful in the darkness.
Darkness has many symbolic meanings. In this physical reality man is governed by laws of change, by laws of opposites, such as light and dark. I love the words from the gospel of John. "In the beginning the word was, and the word was with God, and the word was a god. This one was in the beginning with God. What has come into existence by means of him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light is shining in the darkness, but the darkness has not overpowered it."
If one is not centered in ones own light the darkness is a fearful place. In it all things become lost, without shape or color, nothing in front or behind, no sense of time or dimension. The light is always there. It is and always will be, for all things are made of energy. Energy is light, is movement , is sound, and I believe as written by John, it was the Word.
Some nights I have walked in complete darkness. It is because I have walked the road many times that I sense where I am. Those nights I need a flashlight to guide my forward motion. Most of the time the stars and moon give enough light to see by. A light in the darkness shows the way. It disperses the darkness. It represents comfort, warmth, and understanding. With out the darkness the lights of Christmas would not stand out. The message would not be as powerful as it is. There would be no magic. We stumble around in the darkness, blaming everything and everyone else, including god for the mess the world is in. The light is in us, Christ, the Emmamuel God with us. God is with us, god is in us, The creative life-force of god is all things. Man has free will, man has made the world the way it is and man can change it. The power is the present moment, NOW! We are spiritual beings made of god stuff.
The joy that is in the heart of a child at Christmas should be in everyone's heart every day, "True Spirituality is a thing of joy and of the earth and has nothing to do with fake adult dignity. It has to do with the dance of consciousness that is within you and with the sense of spiritual adventure that is within your hearts. It rings and sings through the universe, and through your entire personality. It is a sense of joy that makes all creativity possible."
Another circle around the sun. Another year that has slipped into memories. I sit here thinking of friends and relatives. Aunt Eva turned 100 this fall. As a child I had many visits with aunts and uncles and cousins, and I especially liked the large gatherings during the holidays. I can picture Aunt Eva in my mind right now as she looked years ago. What I remember about Aunt Eva is her creative side, the way she wrapped gifts in beautiful paper with ribbons. I would open them carefully, not rip the paper so I could save it and the ribbon. She made me a black bear when I was little. It was the Christmas gathering at my Aunt Blanch's house. I also had when I was a little older a pair of mittens with a intricate design that she knitted as another Christmas gift and I had them a long time until they wore out. So I want to thank you Aunt Eva for being a great Aunt to me, and for giving me wonderful memories of you.
Last winter the snow came before Christmas and the temperature never went above freezing until March. Every few day there would be a little more snow so it accumulated. It was the most beautiful winter we have had in a long time. I made sketches on my walks and painted snow scenes all winter.. The birds returning at the end of March found snow still on the ground. They went about their business, love was in the air the air , along with their continuous song.
Mud season was shot. The ground dried out fast so the garden was planted in June. This year animals got into the garden and ate all the peas and beans, then the drought started so I didn't get any squash. However I had plenty of everything else, tomatoes, leeks, beets, carrots, broccoli, red cabbages and greens that I am still harvesting. The fall was warmer then usual and it was warm up to a couple of weeks ago. We have had very little rain since the last of July. We are about 23 inches below normal. It was a long season for swimming in the cove, from the middle of June until the first week in Oct.
Chris and his wife Diane came for a visit the first part of Aug. for 5 days. Charlie's family had a summer gathering when Chris was here that we went to, South of Boston. Charlie is the only one that lives north of Boston. Everyone was there ,about 30 relatives. I met people I hadn't seen in years and new children of Charlie's nieces and nephews and cousins that we met for the first time. It seems strange to be the older members of a family.
Summer comes and goes so quickly, I spend so much time bring paintings from place to place, matting and framing, making prints and posters, and getting ready for shows. Sales were not as good as the previous summer and I had a show the week of 911 that was a complete disaster. Sales picked up latter in the fall and I did well in the Newburyport show so we will be OK for the winter. Charlie had fewer jobs this summer. He had a concert at the Waldo theater in Oct that went well. He had a chance to play with Herb Pomeroy a teacher he had back in school at Berklee. Herb's big band back then played some of Charlie's original compositions. Speaking of people I haven't seen in a long time at my show in Newburyport I reunited with 4 people that went to the Museum School back in the fifties. I think in our inner conscience we are connected to all the people we meet and especially those we have had friendships with. How many times have you met by accident some one you haven't seen for a long time.
December 21, the light will increase slowly. However the winter season is beginning and the cold will settle in, storms will come and winds will blow. We are prepared, bails of hay around the foundation of the house, and plastic over places to keep out the wind. The pellet stove is working and the barn is warm. Charlie and I can work in our studio's this winter. There was 5 inches of snow on the ground solstice morning. It was a wonderland and I took a long walk with Mocha. Charlie played at a party that night.
If only we could rewind life's events like we can a tape to listen to a favorite song. Time speeds up, the hour glass is running out. I said to Christopher that we need to be together as a whole family next Christmas. We need to eat together, to sit around and talk to walk and look at beauty together, to hug, to be just together, relaxed in each others presents.
Doug came up the day before Christmas. It rained hard all day and melted all the snow. Our neighbors came over for Christmas eve dinner, six of us around the table, a pleasant evening of good cheer. When I walked the dog that night the storm had passed and the stars were shining.
Doug and I were talking about the summer he fixed up this house. We never took pictures of the progress. Something I regret because a picture tell a thousand words. Walls taken down, floors ripped up,stairway gone, piles of wood outside, piles of dirt and plaster. Charlie and I took trips to the dump, trips to Home Depot, trips to the lumber yard. It was a time of hard work. I had to do my part that was cleaning up, moving stuff, and painting. I had to keep working until it was finished because if I stopped I would not want to start again. Every day I thank Doug in my heart for what he did. He made a dream come true.
Did I ever tell how we came to live here on Back Cove. Charlie and I came to love Maine back in the sixties. We decided to move to Maine when the boys graduated from high school. To find the location Charlie doused a map of Maine. We asked for a house and barn for studios, near salt water, in a certain price range. This House had just come on the market. It was an old cape with a small barn that needed fixing up. The first thing I did when we got to this property was cross the field to see the water that was hidden by oaks that grew along the bank. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. I climbed down on to the rocks, took off my shoes and waded into the water. I knew right then that this was the place for us.
That was a warm day back in Sept. of 84. We moved into the house the first week in Jan. I will never forget the trip up here from Newburyport in the dark and cold , no heat in the truck, a blanket wrapped around me, carrying passengers, dog and cats, chickens and ducks. It seemed like such a long trip. Finally we turned onto Back cove, drove down the steep hill. Then we saw, In the darkness a bright light, on the telephone pole in our driveway. Charlie was ahead of me in the car. We got out,of the vehicles snow on the ground, windy and very cold, and with the animals,dog and cats entered the house. We put on the lights and to our surprise and joy the heat had been turned on and the house was warm. We were home. That was a trip in the darkness that I will never forget.
It is the second day of Christmas Doug left late morning. It snowed a little, enough to whiten the driveway, and dot the fields. Charlie is working on his Christmas songs, Last year he made me a CD with three songs, and before the 12 days of Christmas end he will add two more songs
The events that happened this year have changed the world. We the people because of world communication are somewhat aware of the terrible conditions that people live in. These conditions are caused by dictators, corrupt governments,and corporations greedy for power and wealth. They have no respect or regards for the planet or the inhabitants on the planet. They are causing starvation, pollution, conflict, destruction. When the quality of life is threatened, as it is in many parts of the world, changes will happen. Already individuals and groups are speaking out and organizing, finding ways to stop the abuse, expose the villains and work for justice and human rights. If you research the web and listen to alternative radio stations you will find these grass root movements are happening all over the world. It is not all gloom and doom. It is encouraging to hear some of these activists speak, for one can sense their honesty and commitment and their actions will make the world a better place.
This is another quote from Henry Beston. "However various may be the tasks which man is given to attend to upon this earth, his major occupation is a concern with life. To accomplish this duty, he must honor life, even if he honors it but blindly, knowing that life has a sacredness and mystery which no destruction of the poetic spirit can diminish. The curtain has just rung down on a great show and carnival of death and the air is still poisoned and we are poisoned. Our strength and intelligence have been used to counter the very will and purpose of the earth. We had better begin considering not what our governments want but what the earth imposes."
Here I sit in our warm, comfortable house, protected and safe from the outside world. It is the third day of Christmas. Clause, a big yellow cat, a stray that came to live with us last Christmas, sits in my lap. He is content and sings. His enjoyment on my lap makes me happy, an energy feeling we exchange. The Christmas season for me marks a time to think back on what I experienced during the year. It is a time to slow down, to enjoy the songs, smells, lights, the greens, and decorated fir tree. It is a time to be with family and friends. It is always a pleasant time for me, a gift, a conclusion and a beginning. It is a time I hear from old friends and send them my news.
Dec 30. In the early evening Charlie and go to a holiday party at the Pine Cone Cafe, a restaurant in downtown Waldoboro.. The owner has a tasteful creative sense of decorating, and she is a very good chef. Upon entering in front are ivy tree shapes with lights of red flowers,and to the left an arch of tree branches wound with clear lights. To the right of the door is a row of booths and to the left a row of tables laden with platers of all kinds of meats, breads and interesting dishes, all beautiful to look at. We walk under the arch and go upstairs. More wonderful sights., Candles held in position by cranberries, a huge bouquet of white flowers, on the shelf above the couch. On the left a bar and beyond a larger room where a band plays. Another table has large wedges of many kinds of cheeses, baskets of different crackers and an interesting display of grapes and pears. Soft lights, candles and poinsettia flowers decorate other parts of the room. In a short time the rooms are filled with people, adults and children dressed for the occasion. Sounds of music and peoples voices mingle together. People around the tables and bar eating and drinking or standing in groups in conversation. People move about, go to the feast downstairs and sit in the booths. I fill my plate, rice wrapped with grape leaves, roast beef, ham and turkey, smoked salmon, string beans with something good on top. It is a feast for kings. I go back up stairs and find a place to sit. A couple dance, then more join the dance space, couples and children, move to the rhythm of the music. I talk to a few people, most of the people I do not know. I like to watch. My life is one of observation. By nature I am a quiet person. The crowd is thinning out. Charlie and I go downstairs, get coffee and sit conversing with friends in a booth. Time to go. The event of 4 hours is already a memory that will stay with me for a long time.
I walk the dog under the light of the full moon, It is quiet and still, except for the sound of my footsteps crunching on the snow. I feel a peacefulness, I am warmly dressed. Breathing in the crisp air, the clean smell, I feel alive and a part of the environment that surrounds me, the ever-giving life-force of nature.
My wishes for good health and happiness.
For more information, please contact:
Audrey Bechler 968 Backcove Rd. Waldoboro, ME 04572 1-207-6832-6806
Layout, Design, and Revisions ©2004 by Douglas Bechler...... Revised, January 9, 2005