Winter arrived. Monday evening we stopped on our walk home from the park to watch the sky shimmer and glow golden and fiery.
We woke the next morning to a thick blanket of snow clouds hanging over us. When tiny flakes started fluttering down we started suiting up. By the time all three kids were stuffed into snow suits, there was a solid foot of snow covering the town. Kids freshly dressed in snow clothes remind me of seals hauled out on the beach – grumpy and obesely immobile- the best thing to do is keep your distance so they don’t bite or charge you.
We are lucky to live a short walk in the woods from a perfect sledding hill. Since the snow and cold weather hung around all week, we’ve had a chance to perfect traditional winter pursuits like sledding, snow angeling, tracking, and mitten losing.
We even tried dog sledding with Manti, the giant poodle. They got going really fast, so fast I was expecting serious injury when they tried to stop. But that’s the beauty of snow, it’s fast but a nice soft place to crash.
I’ve been reading House of Rain: Tracking A Vanished Civilization Across The American Southwest by Craig Childs. It’s what it sounds like, a sort of travel journal blended with archeological research on the elusive Anasazi civilization. Elusive isn’t the right word. These are people that left roads, temples, full cities carved into the land in a very obvious way. I pulled up photos and North America has what looks like Castle ruins just as old as anyone else’s. What?? Why was I not taught about this in Elementary school?
Beyond single site construction, this civilization may have even shaped the topography of their environment into a system of artificial mounds and natural landforms in a vast network of signal stations, allowing rapid communication over vast distances.
The more I read, the more incredulous I felt about their absence from North American curriculum. In all fairness, maybe I just missed them. I was raised in the Southeast. And I had heard of them, read about them in Jared Diamond’s Collapse, even kept a friend company in college as she attempted to catalog and shelf countless reconstructed vessels for her museum practices credit. But I’ve never had as full a picture. And asking a few friends, nobody seemed too familiar with what I was reading about.
In Child’s book, he gives the analogy of trying to catch sight of a person passing back and forth the crack of a mostly shut doorway as the vision we have of the Anasazi. They occupied the land in a much different way than western cultures do. They appear to have been inclined to inhabiting sites for eras, leaving for a generation or two, with an expectation that the land and climate would inevitably change and they would return or more likely their grandchildren would return to reoccupy the site.
While land sites shifted, their astronomical observations were keen and accurate. They aligned their massive great houses and brick and mortar settlements to the moon, stars, and sun. Which brings me to solstice. In House of Rain Child visits Chimney Rock in Colorado, the site of a great house built more than a thousand years ago built, some believe, to be a lunar observatory as the brick and mortar construction has a site line that catches the moon rising in the center of two natural pillars on the winter solstice when the moon swings to its farthest point in its 18.6 year track. You can read details here.
With the Ancient Puebloans in mind, and winter solstice approaching, I reread some articles on other ancient sites like Newgrange, where massive construction was a marker for the light and the change of the year. In my own culture, the darkening always seemed incidental to the year change. It occurs and then a stutter step later, digital clocks and satellites alerting that another year has started. It’s so precise, we all stand together and count the exact seconds down. Then that new year is upon us in full force, and most of us seem to be suddenly jogging 5 miles in icy wind or carefully recording every dollar we spend.
I’ve found myself reveling in the idea of the year that doesn’t switch instantly, but is instead looked for as a birth is expected. It’s a beautiful idea to have the year begin in weakness, the days only briefly shining, the way a newborn baby only briefly rises to consciousness. In that spirit, if a year is born and grows in strength, maybe what we do in that year should also start out in a weak fumbling sort of way. Not in the instantaneous expectation of perfect change, but instead in an intention that grows and builds on itself.
Gideon is 10 months old. Yay for the baby.
When not rearranging, he has taken an interest in drawing, probably because he sees everyone around him drawing. Most days he crawls around with a crayon in hand and pulls himself up to the chalkboard or paper roll to try to make his mark.
While he still won’t eat bread, he does like to snack on chalk.
Gideon is growing up fast. He turned seven …and eight months old. He’s a fun kid.
He seems to eat his own weight in food at every meal, inhaling everything we put near. Except bread which he disdainfully drops on the floor. I handed him an apple the other day, when I looked back he’d reduced the apple to half a core and I had to fish the seeds out if his mouth. Those teeth are sharp.
He can clap his hands, wave, sign more and All done! When greatly up set he will yell Mama! He also says a very sweet hi. He’s started scooting around which he mostly employs to crawl back into my arms so he can watch the crazy big kids at a safe distance.
He loves being part of the action and especially adores Miriam. Probably because she loves to get in his face and babble. I think she appreciates having a person in the family that will listen to her chatter on and on. She calls him Mr Bubba and Bubby.
He’s a determined little person that seems very sure about what he wants and no matter what the rest of us do will find a way to get it (for example, the kids Halloween candy)
I don’t always draw with crayons. I made this for Halloween. It started as a young witch and became a kind of ode to Kiki’s Delivery Service.
Miri looking at a book.
Kids are drawing with crayons. I took the opportunity to draw the cat.