I love beautiful blogs this time of year. You know the kind I mean, the ones where bloggers post pictures of their lovely red-cheeked kids playing in incredible looking landscapes that just happen to be their backyards. They then post wonderful ideas for getting the kids out into nature, no matter what the weather, so they can feed the deer or hang birdfeeders or snap photos of snow laden pine trees or brightly colored birds in the bare branches of a birch tree.
I love those blogs, and I don't.
They can help feed my need for natural beauty, and I do seem to have a deep hunger for it. Living for the past thirteen years in an apartment in a tiny post-industrial city can sometimes up my need for green to alarming levels. (Picture "green alert" like a Star Trek "red alert.") Even though I've made peace with our call here, even though I know we're where we're supposed to be, there are days (especially slate-gray-sky ones filled with spitting snow) when I think if I see one more bit of asphalt, I will scream.
Because sometimes, truth be told? Such blogs make me envious. And then I get grumpy because I know envy is such a scurvy little green-eyed thing and I need to get rid of it. Envy can grow into discontent, and discontent is not the land where I want to live, not during Advent or any other time of the year.
I don't own acres of land or a farm or a patch of Christmas trees. We don't have huge lovely windows that open out onto quiet tree-filled vistas. Sometimes even our glimpses of the sky are blocked by electrical wires and brick buildings. We do get out and nature walk, even in December and January and February, even here. We look for bits of beauty and thank God, we find them.
We even occasionally go somewhere else where such bits of beauty are more readily abundant, like our time at my parents' last week in Virginia. I thought my heart would burst when I saw a red cardinal in the bare branches of a crepe myrtle. He perched next to a green bird feeder and was backed by copper and yellow leaves still hanging on other trees. When I let my glance wander over to the right, I saw the fall-blooming camellia bush, laden with pale pink blossoms, and the coppery-plum leaves of the smoke tree. Tucked almost hidden in their side yard was a miniature Japanese maple whose leaves rivaled the cardinal's feathers.
That's a rich day, and I'm thankful for it, storing it in my memory banks. Here such moments are rare indeed, so I'll enjoy what I see: my eight year old curled up on the narrow sill of our window with a couch cushion and a pillow (longing for a window seat) marveling over the street below us. "Mommy," she said this morning, in the most enchanted of tones, "the parking lot looks like it's dusted with powdered sugar."
And so it does, a small citified Christmas cookie, baked with love and hand-decorated by God himself.