In a Vase on Monday: Winter Colour

My hellebores are not open yet, so I have nothing but a dried allium flower to share this week. I picked it in the summer before the petals had completely dropped, and the hint of pink is still vaguely there…. if you squint a bit and use your imagination! But as you can see from my other ‘vase’ full of yarn scraps, and from the homemade crocheted doily, I am making the most of the winter months to be creative indoors instead of out. 😃 Crocheting is where I get my colour ‘fix’ when the garden and sky are grey. 😉

 

I am linking in to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday meme. I am a bit behind on looking at blogs this week, having been distracted by a delicate pink scarf, a shrill woolly hat, a soft wavy blanket and other colourful crocheting projects that are in the pipeline. 🧶😊🧶 But I will be catching up soon!

Hope you have some colour in your world this week!

🤗

In a Vase on Monday: Carmen

I am cheating today, as I do not actually have anything new for a vase. But I do love joining in Cathy’s meme (see Rambling in the Garden) so here is a photo of ‘Carmen’, my gorgeous velvety red Hippeastrum which started flowering on January 2nd. 😃

It has a second bud just appearing, so will bring me pleasure for a while yet. And I have a pink one waiting to be brought into a warmer room for spring flowering.

And to substantiate the fact that my garden is offering nothing but soggy grasses here is a photo of the landscape at the weekend.

I look forward to seeing what other contributors to In a Vase on Monday have found today, especially those in warmer parts of the world!

Have a good week everyone!

Into the New Year

As I write it is still the last day of the year and we had some lovely warm sunshine today: 13°C!

So to ring out the old year here are a few pictures of my leisurely wander around the garden with Anouk this morning.

The blue sky and sunshine was a real treat…

This is the corner Anouk likes to inspect first every morning, as the hares come through the fence there…

Still a few rose hips left in the hedge…

And some morning mist across the meadow beyond our fence…

Anouk, checking for mice…

The buzzards often sit on the perches first thing to warm their wings in the sun… we put up several of these to encourage the birds of prey to help keep the mice population down.

The hellebores are in bud!

 

Can she smell Spring? (No, probably deer or hares!)

Wishing you all the very best for the new gardening year. Health, happiness and lots of flowers!

Happy New Year!

 

Happy Christmas!

Another old Christmas carol has been popping into my head the last few days  – ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen’ – with the line ‘comfort and joy’ seeming just perfect for the kind of Christmas I would like this year. A few days of cosiness, with good food, music, and some relaxation. So I wish you all the same: Comfort, joy, a happy and peaceful Christmastime and all good wishes for the New Year!

🎄🎄🎄

Winter Solstice in Bavaria, Krampus et al

About 250km to the south of us lie the Alps, already covered in a good thick layer of snow at this time of year. The mountains have always been fascinating to me, and seeing them awakens that same childish pleasure as when I catch the first glimpse of the sea on the way to the seaside.

Summer near Berchtesgaden

And the traditions find it fascinating too.

Before the age of digital photos I would occasionally drive there, either for some sightseeing of the beautiful lakes and mountain passes, or for a day of skiing.

Life in the villages and remote farms in mountainous regions used to be very hard in winter (and still can be), and many superstitions arose, particularly regarding this time of year. Some of these are rather sinister, with evil spirits and fearsome creatures playing a role. One of these is Krampus, often depicted as a hairy horned man-like figure, who frightened children into being well-behaved. This is one of the least frightening photos I could find. If you search ‘Krampus’ online you will see even scarier images!

Photo from National Geographic

Similarly, in Bavaria ‘Knecht Ruprecht’ was an evil man dressed completely in black, who supposedly ate naughty children. Here he is depicted as part animal, resembling the devil…

While, on December 6th, the good children receive gifts from Saint Nicholas (the original Santa!), naughty children were tortured; I remember a student of mine (an adult at the time) telling us how he was still filled with dread on December 6th when he recalled how he was collected by Krampus/ Knecht Ruprecht every year and put in a sack, convinced he was going to die!!

Another myth involves evil who people make a pact with the devil during these dark days and turn into weirwolves, threatening humans and animals alike. It was common to burn incense in the stables and barns over Christmas, to ban evil spirits. One of the superstitions I have heard is that the animals in the barns are suddenly able to speak, and foretell the future. Should, however, anybody hear them, he or she is destined to immediate death. (Not sure how that one can be explained!) Another story is that on New Year’s Eve the animals can air their complaints to the ‘house spirit’ about the farmer if they have been mistreated, and he will then be punished. (I like that one!)

All of these myths and many more have become tradition and are remembered, re-enacted or celebrated in December, mainly between Thomas Day (today, December 21st) and Epiphany (January 6th) – the so-called ‘Rauhnächte’ – varying greatly from region to region. The appropriate clothing, masks and paraphernalia are passed down through generations or carefully preserved by communities. I love the fact that so many truly ancient traditions are still alive here today, mostly with pagan origins, being then rearranged around Christian holidays and adapted or extended over the centuries. I am sure, though, that children nowadays are not tormented as much as my student was 50-odd years ago. 😉

And now some nicer images… of my garden on a frosty winter solstice day. 😃

(Click on any image to open a slideshow).

Wishing you a happy Solstice day.

❄️☀️❄️

In a Vase on Monday: In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak mid winter, frosty wind made moan

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone

Another earworm for you this week, as I work my way through favourite Christmas carols! Although today is anything but bleak, with the sun finally appearing to reassure me that it hasn’t abandoned us after all. 😃 And with this clearer weather our temperatures are set to drop well below zero for several days, so the earth certainly will be hard as iron.

 

After a brief walk out into the woods this morning, I came back with a bucketful of greenery to distribute around the house.

It was lovely in the woods.

I wished I could reach that big ball of mistletoe at the top of this fir tree… can you see it? 😉

So this is my ‘vase’ for today, as I join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday meme.

I was so pleased I could find a few berries to decorate it with: Pyracantha from the garden and Euonymus from the hedges.

And the silvery seedhead is perhaps the last of the Queen Ann’s Lace.

Have a lovely week and stay nice and warm if you are in a cold climate like me! ❄️☀️