The garden and fields outside the windows are a study in black and white, as I light the wood stove in the early morning gloom. Snow flakes flurry before the wind blowing down from Mount Mikuni in the north west, and to the south east the sky is growing pale between the jagged edge of the horizon and the clouds that cover most of the sky. I have made a mental note of the point on the horizon that the sun rose from on the solstice, and will watch its progress back to the east over the mornings from now till summer. Gold begins to condense on the edges of the clouds before congealing into a shining globe that floats upwards through the pale sky. Shafts of light spear through the falling snow, and thousands of diamonds sparkle across the white landscape, before the fiery ball disappears up into the cloud bank. The weather bureau forecasts a top of minus three today.
These last few days, since the end of the exhibition in Utsunomiya, have been spent preparing fire wood for winter and installing the large, cast iron, slow combustion stove that we have finally brought here from Mashiko. There will be roast dinner and steamed pudding for Christmas tomorrow! The potted fir tree has been brought inside and decorated, and its top is adorned with the "goldish" star which I made when the children were small. There are presents around the tree, wrapped in white and red, with ribbons of gold and silver.
The boys spend the morning outside ravaging the snowy landscape and building toboggan slopes amid bursts of spontaneous snowball fights and laughter. The cats forge a path between the shed and the house, occasionally following the children round but huddling, for the most part, in whatever warm spots they can find. By tomorrow morning fresh snow will make the world new again, erasing the tracks of children and cats alike.
Mika and the kids are making ginger bread this afternoon, but whether it will be a house or little people is still a matter of debate! Tonight, before they go to bed, the children will put out a snack for Father Christmas, and their stocking at the foot of their beds in hope of presents. I know they have been good...even double checked the list just in case. I, for my part, have cunningly asked Santa for charcoal...
I pray that there is peace on earth; at the very least there is peace in my home, and that is a very good start. I wish you all health and happiness, and may you be blessed in all your endeavours.