Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: The Snow Covers It All

Upper Michigan Blizzard

This is it: the great frozen north, separated from the great white north by an icy body of water that the Song of Hiawatha calls “Gitche Gumee, that shining Big-Sea-Water.” For me, it’s a land of family history. My parents grew to adulthood here, as did their parents before them. When you climb the branches of my family tree, the only place that comes before the great frozen north is the Old Country itself — or countries, rather — Italy, Slovenia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Poland. Between the Old Country, and me, there is nothing but this great frozen north.

Even I lived here; not for long — just two years — but I did it. And I was cold. From the upstairs of a 1920s house, I was within earshot of the shining Big-Sea-Water, within earshot of the fog horns and the ice-breaking tugboats and the winds that pulled the water from the Lake and twisted it and stretched it and smoothed it like a icy blanket over the naked branches and undulating streets.

But the Lake isn’t all of the north. Like Longfellow wrote,
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them…

And it’s these inland woodlands that grew up around my parents as children, that grew around me summer after summer and that grow up around my own child now as we visit. It is these woodlands and these tired old towns, once humming with industry and iron mines, but now battered and listing, with every winter leaning further away from the future. It would be wrong to say time has stood still here, for had it stood still it would have left a kinder mark on the crumbling foundations and the aging rooftops.

Stepping here feels like stepping between the pages of the National Geographic photo essays I loved as a child; in the glossy photos I see the live bait and chainsaw repair shops, the blaze orange, the Stormy Kromers, the ice augers, and chatter about choppers (not airborne flying machines but leather-and-shearling mittens).

Here is where we Christmased, this year; here in the waves of gray that slowly sweep from sky to earth in great snowy sheets that obscure the horizon, layer after another until there is no more sense of up or down but only a single color painted in a single swath.

And in that horizon, I see only the lights of Christmas and hear only the laughter of everyone I know, and I forget the heat and forget the noise and forget the traffic and forget the tropical gales.

The snow covers it all.

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Inspiration

INSPIRATION :: Autumn/Winter 2013 TOAST UK Catalogue

The November 2013 edition of the Autumn/Winter Toast UK catalogue (the House + Home and Women’s sections are all merged into one issue now) is stunning for its frozen lakes, tall pines, and slate mountains. These are all aspects of the natural world distinctly lacking in this corner of the world, and I especially miss them as Christmas approaches. Truthfully, I miss the way they look through windowpanes — with me remaining on the warm side — because I do so like to stay toasty. No pun intended. 

November 2013 Toast Catalog - Slate Mountains, Frozen Lakes and Tall PinesNovember 2013 Toast Catalog - Slate Mountains, Frozen Lakes and Tall PinesNovember 2013 Toast Catalog - Slate Mountains, Frozen Lakes and Tall PinesNovember 2013 Toast Catalog - Slate Mountains, Frozen Lakes and Tall Pines

November 2013 Toast Catalog - Slate Mountains, Frozen Lakes and Tall Pines

November 2013 Toast Catalog - Slate Mountains, Frozen Lakes and Tall Pines

November 2013 Toast Catalog - Slate Mountains, Frozen Lakes and Tall Pines

November 2013 Toast Catalog - Slate Mountains, Frozen Lakes and Tall PinesNovember 2013 Toast Catalog - Slate Mountains, Frozen Lakes and Tall PinesNovember 2013 Toast Catalog - Slate Mountains, Frozen Lakes and Tall PinesNovember 2013 Toast Catalog - Slate Mountains, Frozen Lakes and Tall PinesWant more pretty pictures? You can keep on looking through the TOAST archives, or go directly to a particular season in the list below.

Christmas

CHRISTMAS :: A Fun New Blog Discovered in the Blogosphere – Scandinavian Christmas

I just stumbled across a delightful gem of a blog called (no big surprises here) Scandinavian Christmas. According to the bio, it’s written by “A Swedish-Norwegian family who lives in the very north above the polar circle, and blogs about our favourite season.” It’s brand-new this year, so be sure to go back to the first post (October in the archives). I’m honestly surprised this blog isn’t more popular!

Scandinavian Christmas - new Christmas blog

(Click on each of the photos below to see the original post).

First Snow - Sweden - Scandinavian Christmas

Indiska Christmas items on Scandinavian Christmas blog

Swedish coffee and bread - Scandinavian Christmas

It’s still 14 days until Christmas, so there are sure to be more great posts from this blog over the next couple weeks. You can visit the site directly, grab the Scandinavian Christmas RSS feed to add to your readers, follow Scandinavian Christmas on Bloglovin, or follow AnnaLinda’s Pinterest boards!

[Update: I’m planning a special Scandinavian Christmas series in 2012.]

Christmas

CHRISTMAS :: Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop :: Christmas Decor, Scandinavian Style

I didn’t get enough white Christmas yesterday with Monday’s Pretty Things :: Scandinavian Christmas, so I thought I’d link up with the Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop (which isn’t until Thursday. I scheduled this post a day early. Oops!).

Photo by Sofi Sykfont for Lantliv magazine - Scandinavian Christmas tree
Scandinavian Christmas tree – photo by Sofi Sykfont for the Swedish magazine Lantliv 

Scandinavian Christmas - Roy Alsén Photo and styling Anne-Charlotte Andersson and Anna Kvarnström for the Swedish Magazine Livet Pa Landet
Scandinavian interior – photo by Roy Alsén, styling by Anne-Charlotte Andersson and Anna Kvarnström, for the Swedish magazine Livet På Landet

Exterior of Home in Denmark in Winter - Snowy White Christmas - Image from Sköna Hem

Exterior of Danish home at Christmastime – photo via the Swedish magazine Sköna Hem

Mother and Son on Wintery Christmas Porch in Denmark in Winter - Snowy White Christmas - Image from Sköna hem

Mother and son on wintery Christmas porch in Denmark – photo via the Swedish magazine Sköna Hem

Someday, I think I’d like to have a tree decorated with all white and silver ornaments, and maybe some cranberries. Ahh, dreamy. Right now, though, we have something a little more beautiful than that. ;-) Despite endless reprimands,  the toddler-baby removes a rather high percentage of our Christmas tree ornaments on a daily basis, and strands of lights keep burning out. The decor theme, more and more, is looking like dark, blank patches. But when I look at Aveline’s dancing, happy eyes staring up at the tree, the tree is as perfect to me as any in a magazine shoot.  Oh, I love her!

SEE MORE SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS POSTS HERE.
Gussy