Alexander Averin

Sunday 30 November 2008

On beauty and pain

Dear Diary,

(All photos are by M).

The pain passes but the beauty remains
Pierre Auguste Renoir

It takes pains to be beautiful.

I remember that saying from somewhere in the distant past that was the childhood or the adolescent period of my life. Was it something to do with the pain in having one’s hair coiffed or brushed? From whence it comes I know not but perhaps beauty and pain do go together. Perhaps anything worth achieving carries its price in pain. I am suffering from the cold but the beauty of Winter is all around.

When the temperature drops below freezing, this little stone cottage is harder to heat, it has no central heating and we rely on the ancient Rayburn in the snug which is alight all year round and the woodburner in the parlour which we light at nightfall or earlier on very cold days such as these. Each year we say we really must install some kind of 'proper' heating system but then the temperatures rise to a comfortable level above freezing point and Winter seems easier to bear. But if these too-cold days persist I think we may have to consider central heating of some kind even though the cost of coal and electricity has rocketed and oil is always a worry. Nothing is anything like cheap and never will be again methinks but at the moment we are paying a lot because, as well as buying coal and logs, we use expensive oil filled radiators elsewhere to provide much-needed extra warmth.

I woke this morning to an unforecasted heavy frost, another one that followed yesterday’s which was -2.5 degrees on my journey to work in the car and which remained only barely above freezing all day. I am still recovering from a nasty stomach bug so I didn’t venture outside and when I returned home after work which, being Saturday, was thankfully only half a day, I retired to the warmth of the parlour and its logs (M had kindly lit the fire) and I indulged myself in a spot of rugby watching. What a result. Wales beat Australia! (Apologies to any readers in Australia, it is nothing personal you understand).

My appetite is returning but strange foods attract me, crisps. crackers, mashed potato, fish, soup. And I want to drink Coke., preferably flat - a well known remedy for tummy problems.
But Just for Today, Sunday, I shall not moan. A brisk walk in the frozen air is called for. Hopefully I can capture a few photos while the dogs enjoy a good run. Then when I come back I can always retire to the warmth of that sofa again.

Blessings? There are a few.

The beauty of the elements. Fire, earth, water and air. Their mix always varies and delights in equal measure. Whether it is sun and rain bringing rainbows, cloud and rain bringing mists and deep, fast-moving shadows over the hills or sea and wind bringing huge waves. Today there is sunshine, mist and frost, always a winner with everyone,

Winter trees - to me they are a special work of art and one I only have to look out of my window to see.

Sleep. As the Irish say, it is always the best thing and such a healer.

Appetite for food. Sometimes it disappears, one of those things we take for granted and when it does come back, even if we crave odd foods, it is such a welcome relief.

Surprise gifts in the post! I received one yesterday from a very dear Purplecoo friend. She bought it for me online from an American blogger and it can be seen below in its new home.

Shall I end with a poem?

In the bleak midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart

Christina Rossetti

There was a list published this week of ‘top carols’ chosen by so-called ‘experts’ and I was surprised and pleased to see my top carol at number one. I love this poem by Christina Rossetti and it seems appropriate for today. So far we have no ‘snow on snow’ but I feel it won’t be long in coming.

If you also like this carol do go and view the (YouTube) Corrine May video in my post above.
So beautiful it brought a tear to my eye.

Stay warm,

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


Anonymous said...

Oh Cait, that has to be one of my favourite Christmas carols of all time. I love to play it on the piano and enjoy to sing along although my piano playing may be better!

Another lovely, warming post. We have central heating but the house still feels cold in places.

CJ xx


Gorgeous, thoughtful blog, as ever, and what beautiful pictures. Just lovely! xx

PS Glad you're beginning to feel better - hope a full recovery is not far off.

Malcolm Cinnamond said...

Hi Cait,

Love the blog - found my way here from Welsh Hills Again.

I assume you work in Bishop's Castle, where I used to live.
What's it like these days?

Frances said...

Cait, in my overheated apartment, I read of your cottage, and longed for its fresher air.

I saw your photo of the tree and agree about the beauty of trees in winter, they are lacy against the light, and give any artisti some thing with which to train the pencil or pen, struggling to find the line that nature found easily over the years.

The Rosetti poem is a favorite of mine, too, and always leaves me with a damp eye.

Hoping you will soon feel much better. Get rid of that cold within, while keeping all your creative warmth of soul.


Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Brrrrrr I felt cold reading your blog - I hope you are warm enough because it is so cold at the moment and not set to improve as we go through the week.

Yesterday was achingly beautiful . . . is that where the pain is? Or maybe it is the fact that beauty can come and then go - transient . . .loss is the pain . .

Hope you continue to feel better.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Lovely, lovely post. I am glad you are beginning to feel a bit better. My remedy for tummy troubles is potato soup and if I were closer, I would make you some. My remedy for cold nights is two dogs on the bed rather than just one!!

One of my favorite carols also! Thanks!

Exmoorjane said...

Oh Cait, hate that you're cold....said as I blow on my hands to try to get a bit of warmth in them for typing... We do have heating, just can't afford to put it on! I think we need a job-lot of wood burners....
Big fan here too of In the Bleak Midwinter.....along with Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar it's my favourite too...
Very glad you're on the mend.....

Tattieweasle said...

What a wonderful post. Very thought provoking and I do so adore In the Bleak Midwinter...

CAMILLA said...

A really lovely post Cait.

I saw a programme the other day of Antique show which was based at Bodnant Gardens in Wales, and wondered if that was near to where you lived Cait.

The severe cold weather seems to have come earlier this year, we have had snow and there is more to come yet. It is very worrying about the cost of fuel, logs that we ordered recently have gone up in price to £80 a load, and the central heating is soo expensive to run too.

That is one of my favourite's Bleak Mid Winter, and love Rosetti Poem.

Stay warm, hot lemon and honey with a nip of brandy is a good relief for the cold, I do hope you will be feeling much better soon dear Cait.

The Plaque looks very pretty on latch door Cait.


Commonweeder said...

Cait, The Rosetti is one of my favorites, as a poem, as a carol. Winter has not arrived so mistily here in Massachusetts, but it is coming.

Chris Stovell said...

Oooh...snuggle up to the fire, Cait! We've lit ours tonight. I'm glad you're feeling a little better.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

Adore In the Bleak Midwinter too Cait. It is cold as cold here too but the woodburner is lit and when I leave the computer I can be warm again. Lovely photos.
And yes! Yes! to Wales winning. Great game.