Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The 'Blizzard' of 2007

I arrived home from Florida to the Toledo airport with absolutely no idea where to find my car. It was an amazing winter wonderland. I drug my suitcase over each snowdrift as I searched for the old white jeep. When I did find it, the doors were all frozen shut, and, of course, my hat, mittens, coat and boots were all locked inside! After a long while, I was able to pry open the passenger door and climb over to start the car. I also was lucky enough to have my scraper. After an hour of work, I was able to gingerly make my way out of the parking lot towards home.

My neighbors, Larry and Sherry, had plowed my driveway. If it hadn't been for them, I would have never gotten into my drive. My house temp was on 50, so I turned on the heat, changed clothes and Karen and I took the boys to the park for a late afternoon snowy playtime. The evening ended with dinner and hot coffee back at my house.

Snow is everywhere...and I am in awe of the beauty. My boys love it as well!!

Lou Ann

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A lovely week end in Florida...ahhhh...

It was a short week end...but absolutely lovely. Adam met me at the St. Pete airport on Friday and we spent the next couple of hours lunching and walking on the beach. (I could not resist the photo of me and the Gulf behind me!) It was warm and sunny and a wonderful way to spend a Friday afternoon.

We spent the week end walking on the beach, attending the St. Pete's farmers market which is home to fine art, fresh vegetables, fresh squeezed orange juice, hummus, anything possible for lunch and friendly vendors. We bought tangerines, photographs, homemade soap and hot dogs from the corner vendor.

Saturday night was a treat for me as they surprised me with tickets to The Rockettes. It was on tour at the Tampa Performing Arts Center and so wonderful. It was fun to dress up and attend the theatre. We came home, made coffee and had homemade cookies and talked late into the night.

Their house is creative and beautiful and a reflection of who they are.

By Monday morning I was back at the airport returning to the North to recover from the Blizzard of 2007!

I thank Adam and Tonya for such a wonderful visit...I miss them already.

Lou Ann

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Christmas Program in my Home Town

The lights dim and there is a hush over the crowd as the children come into the gym and take their places on the bleachers. As I sit on the small stage awaiting the reading of Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas, I have a wonderful view of children and parents. For on this night it is the Christmas program at Hamilton Elementary School. Camera flashes begin to go off and parents scoot up to the front to catch a glimpse and a photo of their child. I think every parent, grandparent and neighbor in Hamilton is at the program as every bleacher seat and every chair is filled.

The students have been looking forward to this for weeks practicing songs in their classroom and decorating the hallways with Santa letters and Christmas wreaths made from old cards and paper plates. The evening hallways show off the twinkle lights that adorn bulletin boards. If you were to take a step back in time Hamilton School is reminiscent of decades gone by. The modern conveniences that are so prominent in the new schools have passed us by. There are no phones or televisions in the classrooms….no modern cloakrooms…no state of the art conveniences, but Hamilton has been home to me for as long as I can now remember. There is something wonderful about this hometown school, I guess you could call us all family as opposed to teachers and staff. On this Christmas program night it is evident as teachers make their way back to school to open up classrooms so children can gather. The hallways are full of laughter and love and beauty. Children who normally attend school in t-shirts and jeans are now in dresses of pink and red…satin and bows. The boys have vests and white shirts with the collars sticking up in the back and their hair slicked down by mothers who tried to make them stand still all the while.

I remember my very first Christmas program as I child. It wasn’t fancy, we just sang. I do know that I secretly wanted the lead part, but it went to a girl in my classroom who read the Bible twice through already. Or so she said. (We were in fourth grade!) My dress was blue and I got to wear my patent leather shoes to the program as opposed to my every day saddle oxfords. I remember standing on that stage unable to breath as I was so nervous. I was shy when I was young.
The teacher, Miss Lomont, came and sat by me and patted my knee. My hair was in pigtails, my teeth were crooked, but I felt so important in that moment.

Tonight is the same. I look at their faces. Hope. Sweetness. Courage. Impishness. Twinkle lights adorn the gym and they begin singing Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas. Every child sings as loud as he/she can. Each class one a time sings a song or two. They even put a dreamy feel in White Christmas. At one of the rehearsals I heard Tonya, one of our teachers, say to them…sing it for your grandparents, it is their song. She was so right. On this night they do sing it for their grandparents.

The show isn’t fancy…no speaking parts…no dramatic sets or costumes…and some of the time they are off key and not even with the music. It doesn’t matter. The program ends with thunderous clapping and there is great commotion of parents and children trying to find each other. Children are anxious to hear the words the program was wonderful, you are wonderful.

As quickly as the gym was set up to look like a fairyland, it is taken apart and everything hauled back into classrooms or car trunks. The lights are stark and bright and tomorrow the high school students will play basketball in the gym. Tomorrow the children will wear t-shirts and jeans, but the Christmas magic will remain.

I drive back home over roads that are still a bit icy from the morning snow. They are empty and deep coldness is settling down upon us. In our world of change I am thankful for things that do not. Christmas programs. Moonlight on snow. Christmas lights in windows. Children. I pull into the driveway at the White Picket Gardens. It is good to come home. I find another warm quilt in the closet and find myself humming White Christmas as I close the curtains on the holy darkness.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

haiku for a winter's day

Today in my home town:

Empty streets of ice
Longing for summer walkers
All doors frozen shut

Bloodlines of winter
Run through blue veined lifeless hands
I’m sleeping til Spring

Winter’s aching moon
Shadowed behind icy clouds
Crescents on my floor

Roads of sooted dust
Swirls with frigid drollness
Cold placidity

Frosted icy paths
Bring frozen stars down to earth
Hunched winter morning

Shards of blackened soot
Seep into death’s coverlet
What darkness lies there?

Diamond overview
Cold windows of winter’s lace
Breathing haunts my soul