Friday, December 31, 2010

Peace, Joy, Love...and Chocolate Fondue

I've celebrated New Year's Eve in varied ways over the years. Growing up I used to envy the adults who would stay up late. As a teen, I remember leaving a party before midnight to ensure that the right guy would be by my side when the ball dropped. On my honeymoon, my husband and I spent New Year's Eve celebrating and playing slots at a casino in the Bahamas. As new parents, we rang in the New Year with our children at 8:00pm, blowing horns and throwing streamers and confetti. Some years later we've hosted sleepover parties for our children and their friends, making chocolate fondue an annual tradition.

Our house is much quieter this evening; our firstborn went out to dinner with her boyfriend, treated him to a comedy show, and is celebrating at his Mom's house before returning here. Our other daughter and our Italian exchange student daughter have headed to a party with other foreign exchange teens and they too will be home after midnight. Our son, who had a noisy sleepover a few days ago, is making the best of his evening home alone with his two tired parents who nixed the idea of his having a friend over again tonight. He's asking for the fondue but we're hoping we can put that off until tomorrow when there are more hungry mouths around to consume it. As I hear him in the other room playing Wii with his dad, I'm wondering whether or not I'll get away with that postponement.

The truth of the matter is, like life surrounding it, New Year's Eve is what it is. It can be celebrated with a noisy party, with lots of friends, or it can consist of a snooze on the couch and a gentle kiss when one is shaken awake at midnight. The evolution of the evening's events can vary but the anticipation of what might unfold in the new year continues to excite. In any case, each New Year's Eve carries for me one hope; for all of my friends, family, neighbors, and those I've yet to meet, I pray that your next 365 days be filled with peace, joy, and love. And hopefully, also, some chocolate fondue. I'm caving. There will be fondue to enjoy before the ball drops. After all, a tradition is a tradition. Happy New Year !!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sleigh Ride

Romance. I have always been a sucker for it. It doesn't take much to touch my heart and I suppose that the tendency every so often to let a tear drop in happy appreciation at the sight of a beautiful scene is a quality I get from my Dad. He still picks wildflowers and arranges them into lovely bouquets for my Mom when they are at camp, and he never fails to buy her chocolate, an indulgence she'd be quick to forgo if not for his thoughtfulness. So taking his lead, this Christmas I booked a two night stay at a nearby country inn for my husband and I. Our time together was carefree, easy, and yes, romantic.

On our way home we stopped for one final adventure, a sleigh ride. Neither of us had ever gone on one. As we drove up the road to the barn, two shelties and one border collie greeted us excitedly. The farmer waved and I smiled and never stopped smiling the entire time. His wife introduced all of the animals to us--Maddie and Red would be the Belgian horses to take us on our late morning ride, but Maddie's three children were there too along with two jersey cows chomping on the hay nearby. The farmer's daughter, a pretty redheaded girl, helped her Dad hook up the horses while the farmer's wife got us situated under two blankets in the sleigh. And then we were off! Over the snow cover fields in the dazzling December sunshine and down the wooded path. The farmer told us of how he'd worked the land his entire life and how the farm has been in his family for 200 years, since 1810.

In what seemed to be the blink of an eye, but what was actually an hour or so later, we returned to the barn. We promised we would be back soon with our children. "Are you headed home now?" the farmer asked. When I replied that we were indeed he said, "Well, that's not so bad either going home, is it?!" No, it's not sir. Not at all.

And as we headed home, that tear of happy appreciation fell down my cheek. I am richly blessed. Meeting this family of farmers, experiencing their friendly ways and that sleigh ride, sharing it all with my best friend, and knowing this romance is all in my takes my breath away.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Before last night, it was probably the chicken stew in a bread bowl we enjoyed in Hanover, NH on a rainy day. But then on a cold day in December, the onion rings arrived on a little spindle at a small cozy pub tucked in the basement of a beautiful country inn in Fryeburg, Maine. We eat a good two or three meals a day but every so often arrives sustenance that is memorable for years afterwards. Is it truly that the meal enjoyed is so divine, so unforgettable? Or is it, instead, that at these times, everything surrounding the food is arranged perfectly; the moment is right, the atmosphere is just what is needed, the one you are sharing the meal with is, well, the one?!

As M.F.K. Fisher, an American author who wrote often of food, culture, and philosophy once said, "There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk". Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Views from the Dock

When I was a little girl, I would visit my Nana at her apartment in Auburn. I loved the view from her living room window. The twinkling lights of the city were like stars and I found that spot to be one of the most peaceful places I had ever experienced. There has always been something about streetlights and cityscapes that have comforted me, but no where on Earth have I felt more at peace than on the dock at my family's camp at the lake. With Mount Katahdin keeping watch over me, my time on the dock is a treasure. I have limited time there each year and thus, I find additional "docks", additional "Nana's windows", places I encounter that allow me to stop and gaze, reflect, dream, breathe. One such place used to be a certain window in the music library room at Stearns High School. I'd gaze out that window over the stream before every theatrical performance when I was a teen. Recently I've found it peaceful to sit on the stairway outside Deertrees Theater, the one on stage right. Another "dock" is my home's deck on a warm summer day. These views bring me peace. They automatically give me that feeling that I treasure when I take in a view from the dock.

It is my hope that in creating this blog, I can take time to gaze, reflect, dream, breathe. And in opening yet another window, this time to the world online, I'll share with others my views from the dock.