Merry Christmas!

Enthused by the need to cheer up my husband who has been moping around the apartment of late, looking sinfully bored, I thought we should swing into a little town nearby for some Christmas cheer. It is a town of antique shops and art galleries and artists. Lambertville (https://thetravellingdiaryofadippydottygirl.com/2019/06/11/the-lambertville-photo-roster/), which I have introduced you to a while ago. The way was paved with swathes of snow, then patches, where the snow has melted but with degrees of reluctance. Charming, quiet hamlets, acres and acres of farmland, silos and barns – the mainstay of the American farming story. I have a yen for those silos and barns. Have had it since my first trip Stateside in 2016. I could not take my eyes off them then, when we were visiting my sister-in-law in Seattle. Thereafter, I have fantasised of living in a barn. Adi is suspicious of the concept, but I tell him, “You would never look back with regret.” He still needs convincing.

So we roll on and listen to country music and carols and reach Lambertville within the span of an hour. The streets are remarkably empty. A couple of people roam the pavements, armed with coffee cups. The shops are open, the restaurants look shut, and generally the whole town looks like it has gone to sleep. It is cold, but not terribly so. We have not been keeping up with news. I am tired of keeping track of the numbers. But this makes us think, maybe it would have been better to just stay home. Covid’s token. Certainty is a thing of the past.

This must be the year of the grinch.

I enquire at some galleries for my art pieces. They mostly display oils. I make a mental note that I should continue with my objective of experimenting with oil painting starting next year. I am looking forward to it. After all, it is going to be a fresh challenge. A promise of growth.

At the antique shops, I pick up old bound editions of William Faulkner and Stendhal, when Adi beckons to me. I follow him. Massive installations of Tyrannosaurus and Komodo Dragons, a massive head of the Tyrannosaurus, its cruel eyes glinting at me, so life-like and uncanny. I shudder and run away, back to the comfort of books, porcelain figurines, faded cigar boxes. Within the matter of an hour, we take off from Lambertville for home. With dusk, the temperatures have dipped remarkably. Home seems the only place to be.

On the way back, we drive back again through hamlets and farms lit up with fairy lights and candles glinting at the windows. The pièce de résistance is a magnificent old spruce tree that we sight, on the grounds of a church. It is so tall. And threaded with warm twinkly lights, a yellow star crowning it, almost casting a mellow pool of light (or it maybe a figment of my imagination). I wish I could have stopped for a photo. But could I have done it justice? It is one of those things where words will have to suffice and you will have to take my word for it that it was a thing of rare beauty. A tree not uprooted, a tree left to grow unchecked, a tree done up in the simplest of manners, but one that was possibly the best Christmas tree that I have clapped eyes on. It belonged where it stood.

This year, we are not doing the traditional bird roast. It turns out, both of us were thinking of it, and were amazed when we said it aloud and realised that we were both on the same page. We will however bring it in with loads of veg, cheese and pies and cakes. I would love to hear how you are celebrating.

Here’s to a fuzzy Christmas, wherever you are, dear reader. Big love from us and Jack Phat from my art journal.

December

I have been gone long. But at the back of my mind has been this constant hum, “don’t be a numpty, get back to the blog already!” So the days have passed while I have been thinking of making a return, but words seem strangely sparse nowadays. Do you know what I mean? I think you do. I might meet you and talk endlessly, as is my wont, but when it comes to blogging, I feel like a dried-up well.

An endless litany of days just merge into the other, though I do not imply that I am discontented. Sure I have my wobbles (like any of us), but I have never looked more inward than now, to keep my soul invigorated. In all of this nature has made the biggest difference. I have found great comfort in watching the machinations of the birds that haunt the bay here. The season has brought about its customary visitors – flocks of Canada geese that honk in the evenings as they fly home, wherever that is, in perfect formations; the ring-billed gulls who perch themselves on the walls unafraid, even as one jogs by; the Snow Goose that looks picture perfect; the male mallards with their glistening green heads and the females with their speckled brown plumage; the cutesy Buffleheads that bob in couples on the waters. I have learnt to tell the young ring-billed gulls from the mature ones, by virtue of their plumage. Maybe because I have poring over Audubon’s wonderfully detailed field guide.

Meanwhile a snow storm in the last two days has coated my world pristine white. It has brought such a spark of joy. So what if I find myself slipping on the ice that has formed in the tracks on the park or sinking deep into the snow as I try to get to the many snowmen that have cropped up around us. Everyone is out there, sledding down the gentle slopes in the park, making the most of the landscape bathed in snow. We all need what we can get to tide us over this odd year, isn’t it?

I have been recharging myself through art. Watercolours and charcoal drawings. I have also started an etsy store: www.etsy.com/shop/Artbybasu?ref=seller-platform-mcnav. I hawk my wares on it. That apart I have been working on going the self-publishing route with my book. It is daunting and involves loads of research, but at least I have some control over the process. One needs control where one can find it, don’t you think? Anyway, I hope to get back to blogging more regularly, now that I have gingerly made my way back here, and catch up with my feed. Needless to say, but I shall put it out nonetheless, I have missed you all.

To you my lovelies, I send the brilliance of snow and oodles of love from Bayonne. Off I go to demolish some quiches and making December count.

Moving Day

There was the day I moved my blog. If I thought that was torment, eyes popping out with the strain of staring at the laptop screen for hours at a go, the mind dissolving into the consistency of mushy peas at the prospect of solving more WordPress dilemmas, there was the day we moved house. That was the gobstopper, so to say. But before I carry on, I have a request. In all this slippery business of moving the blog around, I realise belatedly that I have lost my followers. If you are here, and it is not too much of a trouble, may I ask you to follow me all over again?

Now, to get to the exacting prospect of the move (I don’t know why we do it to ourselves, but we do), the day itself was advanced by more than a week. The numbers of people afflicted by the novel virus were shooting up. The leasing offices of the building we were in had already shut down. It was only a matter of time before our new building’s offices followed suit. The less said about the expense of it all, the better.

If living in the terms of coronavirus took time to get used to, for all of us, as we made little tweaks and adjustments to the rhythm of life, moving did not allow us enough time to figure out how to go about it mindfully. We had masks and gloves, but halfway through the move they came off involuntarily. Moving day had in any case arrived all too early. Before the movers popped in, already we had a large number of boxes sat on the floor of the kitchen. Those I had packed beforehand in a lengthy process that informed me that we have too many spices and condiments.

The movers were a trio, their language foreign to the ears and features slightly Eastern Asian. The eldest, a compact man with vast reserves of energy (let’s call him M1) revealed that they were from a place my besties had proposed as a girls’ birthday trip destination towards the latter part of this year. An ancient city central to the operation of the old Silk Route. Samarkand. “The land of Babur,” offered M1, rhyming the word with Namur. He was not off the mark for Babur, the Mongol conqueror, from Fergana in Uzbekistan was enamoured of neighbouring Samarkand. He described it as a “wonderfully beautified town” in his memoirs, Baburnama, and had succeeded in occupying it twice in his lifetime.

Was this a sign that the girls and I should go ahead with our trip after this entire situation dies down? Should we believe in signs?

Anyway, M1 conducted his own mini-interview of us subsequently, and, in detail.

First, he informed us with great pride that his was not the hope to make the big busy city his home. His is to earn money and fly back to his nest. He noted: “My homeland is beautiful. I have a family and a big house there.” And as an afterthought, he added: “Where we come from, we do not believe in renting.”

Next he quizzed us about the apartment we were moving to. Was it better? Was it bigger? Was the rent more or less than the current one? This continued till Adi had to head to the nearest burger joint to get us all lunch. The inquisition rolled to an end.

A quick lunch break and the process of packing continued. This confirmed to us, if we had not known it already that our earthly possessions are the proverbial albatross around the neck. Most of them acquired through a mix of desire, want, greed… not need. This, after I have downsized to a considerable degree. I foresaw then a future of whittling them further.

At some point in the early evening, the truck-load of the various components that make up our home, finally reached the new building. Here ended the movers’ toil. Here also started our own portion of back-breaking work. The next four days involved furious cleaning. Wipe everything down, find a place for every little thing, cook, decorate. Drop a few things in exhaustion. The first wall clock we bought in Leicester for our first home together. The spoon rest from London. A magnet or two. A husband tired enough to drop the topic. Then, four days of drowning out the news and exchanging it for the sweet sounds of home. Revelling in the cackling of wild geese, the rhythmic thump of clothes in the washing machine, the whistle of the kettle, the sound of the oven dinging – the cake’s done — the pot of tea after. And at the end of it, a couple of happy roosters.