Monday, December 23, 2013

A Little Night Music

Pat and Rett's first Winter Solstice Celebration at the Farm = 8 good friends + 5 assorted dogs (who got along famously for the most part) + a soggy, wet, windy weekend punctuated with fabulous food, a few cocktails and lots of laughter. Oh yeah, and a fantastic folk violinist from Kiev in the Ukraine.

Pat always has something up his sleeve. (Last year, for the "end of time" he greeted us at the front door in tux and tails -- if the world was going to end, he was going out in style, he said.) This year, we were just finishing up dinner, when out of the blue, a knock at the door! Enter, Arkadiy Gips, a classically trained violinist who emigrated from the Ukraine in the 1990s, winding up first in New York City and soon playing Russian gypsy music as a backdrop to Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour.

Gips, who lives in Columbus, played a handful of rich folk and holiday songs, performing with incredible skill and such passion, and making the lone violin sound like it was being accompanied by a host of other instruments. What a nice surprise!

But let's backtrack. The 8 of us had gathered in the late (wet) afternoon for our annual solstice celebration, and the best way ever of kicking off the holidays. That means great girlfriends.
Guy friends.

Perhaps a doggie friend.
Or two.

 Something shaken, not stirred.

A beautiful holiday table.

And Rett's always-amazing dinner. This year, she ventured to Carfagna's butcher shop earlier in the week for a luscious beef tenderloin, which she crusted with freshly grated horseradish root and served with three different sauces.

Truly delish! Especially with her roasted root vegetables and Mary Ann's beautiful salad. After dinner we had our traditional solstice readings; Pat always digs up wonderful prose for us to read aloud -- often something he's written himself! That evening, my reading was a fitting tribute to the farm:

"But May, or her mirthful spirit,
dwelt all the year round at Merry Mount,
sporting with the Summer months,
and reveling with Autumn, and basking in the glow of Winter's fireside.
Through a world of toil and care
she flitted with a dreamlike smile,
and came hither to find a home
amoung the lightsome hearts of Merry Mount."
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

After dinner, we had our traditional gift exchange, and talked and laughed the night away.

Finally, we girls donned our jammies and had a nightcap before we all retired til the gray, gray morn dawned.
Rio and I were up early, but the sunporch (in name only that day) was cozy and cheery with flickering candles.
I'd brought a good book, too.
And the rest of the day? A little cigar and pipe action on the soggy front porch.

A cut-throat game of Scrabble.

And a nice afternoon for a nap. Or two.

Sandra and I cooked dinner (chicken marbella, brown rice with pine nuts, sweet potatoes, and a salad) and Dave made a scrumptious creme brulee.
And since Saturday really was the solstice, we had a few more readings. Here's a good one to end with:

The Shortest Day
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away,
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshineblazed awake
They shouted, reveling,
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us -- Listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!
     -- Susan Cooper

1 comment:

Sammie Brooke said...

Fantastic pictures and poems!!