In a Deep December...

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…we had a soiree, us Connections facilitators, and we remembered. 
In Villingen in the Black Forest I celebrated Christmas with my British
boyfriend eating greasy goose we stewed on our hot plate, followed by sweet
Badenwurtember wine, far too many glasses, clinking cheer. 
I remember in a deep December so many years ago,
a winter in the mountains among the peaks and snow.
The valley deep, dawn came late, air cold and crisp, then lo
sun rose on the Matterhorn and called us out to go.
In the late full moon over the Grand Canyon with the cold deep l….
overhead and a warm love.
In Mildred's room where she lies, 100 years old, she is singing softly along
with the ragtag voices of carolers echoing in this enclosed space like improbable beauty.
I was teaching in Lhasa in December, the cold creeping into my toes from the cobble streets,
through my too-thin shoes and then the taste of hot, sweet milk tea in a smoky teashop.
One Christmas Eve in Switzerland, I walked home to a farm at midnight, hearing bells
ringing in the falling snow.
I remember sitting on the top of a hill in Tuscany tasting homemade wine, old cheese, breathing
in the scent of grapes, wood barrels and dirt.
In December 1985, Nouakchott, Mauritania was as dry and starlit as I imagine Bethlehem
to have been 2,000 years earlier.
In far northern Minnesota, I remember our sledding hill – in summer the 16th tee of the golf
course – a hop over the stonewall from our back door. Screams! Toboggans toppling riders.
Sssshhhhhh – the sound of runners sliding down the slope.
In the cold, cold church in Combe, Oxfordshire, the vicar put heaters at the end of the pew,
and we sang "Bring the Torch, Jeannette, Isabella" and we could see our breath.
On Christmas eve night we came home from the church Christmas program and hurried
into the house to sit by the woodstove, and my daddy said if we stayed up till midnight,
all the animals would talk. 
I remember rows of birches, wheels of cheese,
trees that line the canal,
snow outside the Van Gogh museum.
I remember listening to the freezing rain from inside the barn in Ireland,
knowing that the cows have to be fetched before they catch cold.


Photo: Susan Hatem, Maren Tirabassi, Maria Christina Rojas, Sara Backer, Johanna Young, Susan Bartlett, Linda Graham, Jennifer Lee. Front row: Judith Hertog, Carolyn Hutton, Terry Farish with lines, also, by Becky Kinhan and Rosie Hutton