The 'ploughman poet' of Scotland is celebrated all over the world in a month or so of Burns Suppers, with variations on the same program that includes bagpipes 'piping in the haggis' as it is carried proudly into the dining hall, the Selkirk Grace said before eating, the famous address to the haggis, a toast to the 'immortal memory' of Robert Burns himself, a toast to the lassies and of course, the 'reply', and music, whisky, dancing, and readings from Burns' works. (The National Library of Scotland posted a link to a short 1953 film of Burns' Tam o' Shanter--worth watching!) The Burns Night tradition began not long after Burns died in 1796. It is a wonderful and companionable way to celebrate in the midst of a dreary time of year.
I found an interesting and well-written guide to having your own Burns Supper event here. Lots of interesting tidbits--about Burns, traditions, the lovely Selkirk Grace:
An' some wad eat that want it
But we hae meat an' we can eat
An' sae let the Lord be thankit.
The Selkirk Grace was around long before Burns. But he is said to have recited the blessing at a dinner given by the Earl of Selkirk, hence its name.
This January has been the usual kind of midwinter chilly month, a time of waiting – for a bit of warmer sun to encourage bulbs to spring forth; for a newer, kinder leadership; for a chance to draw a deeper breath and feel that things will be all right.
Since last Spring, as the reality of the pandemic settled into our consciousness, I have been taking photographs each day of things I find that bring me joy--flowers, birds, clouds, sunrises, sunsets. I post them on Instagram and Facebook to offset some of the rampant negativity.
I love late afternoon light - the 'golden hour'. Edges of things become sharper, more dramatic. What I sometimes fail to see at noontime pops out and is suddenly rather magical. (And as my eyesight isn't getting better, this is all the more fun. Cataract surgery is in my near future...)
Sometimes I don't have my camera in my pocket, and almost inevitably that is when something really interesting appears. Then I must rely on words to relay that story.
I was sitting on a garden bench last week in an almost-warm afternoon, and heard a familiar bird song. Bluebirds? I hadn't seen a one since September. But there was more than one, a lot more. I looked up to see a beech tree, still clad with its crispy brown leaves, inhabited by at least 15 bluebirds having a conversation amongst themselves, not in the least disturbed by this lowly human watching them. Bright flashes of blue amongst the beech leaves...it was lovely. Turns out one of my neighbors has a feeder that they use as a communal hangout nearby. They are all around her front porch!
And then there are the more down-to-earth denizens...bright ornamental kale!
There are always interesting patterns to see, as in the winged elm trees and reflections in the small lakes I often walk beside...
Until a year or two ago, there were several beavers who enjoyed pruning the smallish trees along the edge of the water. Sadly, the beavers needed to be relocated to a place where it didn't matter if they caused a little ponding and flooding in folks' back yards. But evidence of the beavers' work still remains...
And so here it is, two days after the official Burns Night celebrations, two days later than I had intended to finish this entry. As Burns wrote, 'the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley'. (Burns Night celebrations are still ongoing, and will continue well into February!)