Snow In Seattle

When Snow Comes To Seattle

It's December and we expect wintery weather to arrive with a flurry of snow. We pull our collars tight and burrow into our scarves as we hurry home under grey, snow-laden skies. Our pantries are stocked with winter comfort foods. 

Seattle, however, doesn't get much snow. It's nestled on a hill next to a large, salty body of water. This makes for a temperate climate and that means we don't have long, deep winters or hot and humid summers.

So when a little snow comes our way, excitement jumps through everyone. The local newscasts follow it snowflake by snowflake. Schools prepare to close. Children bounce around, ready to build a snowman on their snow day.

Snow came at the beginning of December.

To The Store For Warm Clothes

With snow in the forecast, I scurried off to pick up warm accessories.

I had already purchased a waterproof rain coat that included a warm liner. The day before the predicted snow, I ran back to Eddie Bauer to complete the ensemble. I added a warm hat and gloves. Waterproof boots are next on my list.

As we go to bed, the first light snowfall begins.
It was the first “measurable” snowfall to stick and accumulate in the lowlands of Western Washington and Seattle in nearly two years, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.
— Q13 Fox news
 

The Snow Begins

The snow started at night. We went to bed wondering what we would see in the morning. Waking up at 6 am, it was still coming down in fat, sloppy snowflakes, but by 8 am, it had already tapered off. 

People were thrilled to have some snow to play in and others dreaded driving in it as they headed to work. Retirees breathed a sigh of relief that those days are behind them and blissfully enjoyed the snow knowing they could stay home for the day.

Trees looked festive for the holidays with the most natural of flocking, real snow. Low, grey skies softened the feel of the land.

It was a delight to many Washingtonians. Earlier in the day, in Lewis and Thurston counties, adults and children ran out to play in snow and build snowmen and have snowball fights.
— Q13 Fox news
 

Connecting To The Environment

Students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®) can connect to their feelings about the weather. Do you find difficulties with certain seasons? Perhaps you're anxious about having to drive to work in the snow. Using Front Position #3 can help to decrease anxiety.

Maybe you have favorite seasons? Using TRT® hands-on, you're able to explore your relationship with the world around you and connect at deeper levels.

Do you look forward to the snow? Or perhaps you're a snowbird, flying away as soon as it appears. 

After The Snowfall

Snow doesn't linger long in the Seattle lowlands. Temperatures rise and storm drains trickle with the sound of melting ice crystals. Rain washes the rest of it away.

While the snow disappears in the lowlands, the higher elevations build their snow pack. Local ski resorts relish the promise of a robust ski season. Snow bunnies dream of icy escapades that await.

Meanwhile, in Seattle, snowmen melt into the grass and we dream of snowflakes that may come again.

 

Winter Storms And Healthcare Personnel

Winter Storm Blasts East Coast

One of the biggest winter storms on record came rumbling into the East Coast in January 2016. Although we only had some "sympathy rain" in California – watching the intense news coverage made me feel like I should stay home, if nothing else, as a show of solidarity. Actually, that sounded good to me.

Any excuse to bake, prepare nourishing soups and catch up on reading. The to-do list also included practical things like sorting through drawers, but whoever does practical things at times like this?

Winter Soups

Soups in winter nourish and warm our hearts. It harkens back to the collective memory of an ancient hearth with wide bubbling pots hanging on iron hooks over a crackling fire. Homemade soups I prepared were Roasted Beet/Garlic Soup and Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and bean soup).

Essential Personnel

One thing I didn't miss was being identified as "essential personnel." Over many years I have been essential personnel; the folks who don't get to hunker down and stay home during a storm. Nurses and healthcare workers who provide direct patient care still have to get to work.

While elective surgeries can be cancelled and rescheduled, patients in hospital units still require round-the-clock, skilled medical care. Wound dressings need to be changed, tracheal tubes must be suctioned, and medications still need to be delivered on time.

Travel Bans

The news media went wild trying to fill up over 24 hours of constant video of the storm. There are only so many falling snowflakes that you can watch. With 24/7 coverage, I was hoping to see some stories on how they were manning hospitals, especially when New York City called for a travel ban.

Road travel ban in effect in New York City starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Anyone not authorized to be on the roads will be subject to arrest, and their car will be towed.
 

Alas, despite my tweet suggesting the story line to CNN and ABC, I didn't see any in-depth reporting on it. Oh well, so much for the suggestions of the little people.

Working In The Storm

When I lived in Maryland, I was a Registered Nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital on the Pediatric unit. A winter storm careened into the area, it was the December 1992 nor'easter. Perhaps not as large as the recent one, but, it was a storm that, nonetheless, would shut down the area.

I was scheduled to work several 12-hour night shifts during the storm. Plans were coordinated for personnel to sleep over at the hospital between shifts, if they desired, as it was not at all certain one could make it home or back again. Abandoning fellow workers and forcing them to carry on past their already completed 12-hour shifts was simply not an option.

Get To The Hospital

I packed a small bag and prepared a lunchbox to help tide me over the long 36 hours. Volunteers in the community with 4-wheel drive vehicles offered to transport healthcare workers to and from the hospital. I hitched a ride with a local driver and we chatted aimlessly as we inched our way along snowy roads. 

We made it through the storm, patients were cared for and my shifts completed. I managed to get some sleep despite the odd circumstances and I was happy to return home once the storm had passed.

Emotional Support During The Storm

Students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®) can connect with world events, no matter where they are. Those who have studied The Second Degree of TRT® are able to direct energy to the storm and the people affected. Directing energy provides support from deep within.

While watching the news coverage, TRT® students can also use TRT® hands-on to balance their anxiety and bring emotional balance, especially if you are one of the people caught up in the storm. 

I benefited from TRT® hands-on to help decrease stress when I slept over at the hospital. Having a means to nourish myself on all levels was empowering, even while I was in a less-than-restful situation.

Thank You To Those Who Serve

Police, fire, medical personnel look out for us. In this recent storm, the National Guard were also called up as well as municipal workers.

I often think of those who quietly provide our healthcare and public services. They work nights while we snuggle in sleep and they cover 3-day weekends that the rest of us enjoy. They care for us in the background while we carry on in our daily lives of sturm und drang. I deeply appreciate my time now, that I can stay home during storms.

Thank you for your service.

 

 

Man walking in snow: Carlos Barria/Reuters
Shoveling snow: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Umbrellas in snow: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

 

Little Holiday Videos

A Quick Peek Into The Season

Christmas baking and decorations make this holiday season a busy one. There's little time for writing, however, here are a couple of videos taken with our iPhone.

Going To The Tree Farm

Traveling to a Christmas tree farm in Woodland, California this year, we picked out our tree. You can cut down your own if you're feeling like an ambitious woodsman. Pre-cut trees are kept fresh in buckets of water. The workers will take off an inch from the trunk for those of us who don't own a saw. 

One of our favorite Christmas tree species is the Noble Fir. After picking out a humble 6-foot tree, we took the tag to the workers and requested shaking and netting. Shaking it removes loose needles and dirt and a net can help get it home.

A sense of humor is needed when the farm is crowded with holiday shoppers. Tree farm personnel demonstrated their funny-bone with the bottom line of this sign for the tree nets. Just kidding, of course!

Dramatic Winter Skies

Winter skies like to dance at this time of year and I captured some traveling clouds with the time-lapse feature on my smartphone. Music was then needed. The song I Wonder as I Wander evokes seasonal skies and is sung with layers of harmony by The King's Singers.

I had to giggle when I noted that I wandered in my neighborhood and I wondered if there were more Christmas decorations than usual, or had I not noticed them before? I included their photos in the video to connect with the song's lyrics.

 
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
To save lowly people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

When Jesus was born it was in a cow’s stall
With shepherds and wise men and angels and all
The blessings of Christmas from heaven did fall
And the weary world woke to the Savior’s call.
 

Bring Light To Your Creativity

For students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®), you can bring light to your creative endeavors with TRT® hands-on. Focus on Head Position #4 and Front Position #4 to support your expression in light. 

Let yourself relax into your heart. It's okay if it's not a professional production. The joy is in the process of creating.

With so many professional examples around us, it can be intimidating to pursue our own creative attempts. Remember when it was simply fun to create and we didn't worry about the outcome?

May your holidays be filled with wonder as you wander and may the new year be a source of joyful discovery.

 

Winter Solstice Poem

 
Mother of Air, Goddess of the limitless skies.
She is Owl Woman and will carry you through the long dark nights of winter dreaming.
The sun is reborn at winter solstice and days gradually lengthen.
A time of hope and anticipation.
— Owl Woman artwork by Wendy Andrew

Winter Solstice Stillness

Still.
A slow breath, inhale.
Hold in the stillness of winter.
Even the Light becomes still in winter,
outer senses barely perceive it.
Embers of light smolder within our chest.
Our hearts, hollowed out,
make room for greater light.
A slow breath, exhale.
Flames leap to life.
Darkness is once again vanquished.

–Leslie Anneliese

From Darkness To Light

At the Solstice, the darkness of winter exerts its power and stakes its claim as the longest night of the year.

Yet, in the next breath, the darkness turns and starts a steady march to the shortest night of the year in summer.

Cycles of our lives. Our days. Our moments.

Hold on to the light. Spring is coming.

May your heart shine bright with peace and joy even in the darkness.

May your Winter Solstice be filled with expanding light, both within and without.

 

Wassailing, Old Tradition Made New

Wassailing – Our Traditions Then And Now

What a busy time of year. Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Yuletide, St. Nicolas, Santa Claus, Wassailing...

Hold on a quick New York second. Wassailing? That goofy word that no one knows how to pronounce; that's in an obscure Christmas carol that no one sings, because no one knows what it is?

Yes. That's the one.

Wassailing – Wassail.

The wonder of languages. The words "Wassailing – Wassail" are inspiring. Who amongst us gets the chance to say "wassail" often enough?

For the delight of a linguistics person, wassail is a noun, a verb, and even a salutation. It doesn't get better than that.

Wordsmith has this to share:

WASSAIL

PRONUNCIATION: (WAHS-uhl, wah-SAYL)

MEANING: Verb transitive: To toast. Verb intransitive: To go from house to house singing carols at Christmas.
Noun:  1. A toast to someone's health.
2. A festivity with much drinking.
3. A drink for toasting, especially spiced ale.
4. The singing of Christmas carols going from house to house.

ETYMOLOGY: The word Wassail is thought to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon toast Wæs þu hæl – or "be thou hale" (healthy). Earliest documented use: 1275. The Anglo-Saxon derived from Old Norse ves heill – or "be well" in which case, wassailing likely predates the Norman conquest in 1066.

It was a Saxon custom that, at the start of each year, the lord of the manor would shout "waes hael." The assembled crowd would reply "drinc hael" - meaning "drink and be healthy." 

What Is Wassailing?

Wassailing has been associated with both Christmas and New Year's celebrations. It was a way of passing on good wishes among family and friends. It was also an ancient ceremony that involved singing and drinking to the health of trees.

Wikipedia informs us:

The tradition of wassailing falls into two distinct categories: The House-Visiting wassail and the Orchard-Visiting wassail. The House-Visiting wassail, caroling by another name, is the practice of people going door-to-door singing Christmas carols.

The Orchard-Visiting wassail refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards in cider-producing regions of England, reciting incantations and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year.
 
Steeped in history, wassailing is traditionally held on the Twelfth Night after Christmas and performed in orchards to awaken the apple trees from their winter slumber and ward off bad spirits.
 

Trees are precious and they deserve some much-needed recognition. I am more than happy to gather 'round and dance and toast to their health.

It also shows how we used to be more connected to nature and cognizant of our foods and from whence they came. Imagine going into the supermarket and singing to the produce aisles to ensure full shelves for next year.

The Beverley Guardian tells us in their article Days Lengthen, Cold Strengthens:

Wassailing used to be carried out throughout England with other trees such as pear, plum, or cobnut. Cows and oxen used to be wassailed too for the same reason, to bring luck and encourage good health in the coming year.
 

Wassailing may have continued for some die-hards in our beloved merry ol' England, but for the rest of us across the pond, it didn't get much press. Until now.

Wassailing is making a comeback.

A Wassailing Song

The Wassail Song of today is a traditional English Christmas carol.

For our musicians: the verses are in 6/8 time which bounces us along; then the chorus steps in, as smooth as glass, when it switches to 2/2 time. This contrast provides captivating musical interest.

The image above is an example of the printed sheet music.

In 1902 Elder and Shepard published a series of six Christmas carols on single sheets (one of them, The Wassail Song, pictured above). The artwork is by Harold M. Sichel, who was one of Elder’s favorite art contributors.

Of particular interest in the printing is the choice of font that uses the sharp S for the double "ss" as well as the older "s." The scharfes S "ß" (sharp S) is commonly used in German, however, it's also possible to see a long-s short-s ligature (ß) in English texts from the 15th and 16th centuries. Here, it makes for a nice antique effect.

Here We Come A-Wassailing

For an intricate version of the song with rich harmonies, we have The King's Singers from their album, A Little Christmas Music. Be sure to take a listen.

Bring TRT® To Your Festivities

Students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®) can use this supportive technique with all their traditions and holiday activities. Use of TRT® hands-on while participating in events brings greater Light to your celebrations and expands the qualities of loving.

You can use TRT® hands-on while studying history. It helps provide a sense of the deeper energies of those times. Discover more about how you can consciously integrate the universal energy of TRT® into your study of history in an expansion class with an Authorized Instructor of TRT®.

The Wassail Drink

To have a proper Wassail event, you need to have a Wassail drink.

In days of yore, you'd find an ale-based drink flavored with spices and honey. 

Ancient Wassail also had cream and egg whites beaten into it, making for a curdling or frothing that looked like the white wool of a lamb. Hence, it also came to be known as Lambswool – a mixture of hot ale, spices, sugar, breadcrumbs and roasted apples into which beaten eggs and cream were stirred.

To our ancestors, Lambswool was quite delectable. It could be argued it is the grandfather of our modern eggnog.

Today, however, our modern tastebuds tend not to favor warm beer. And your guests may start packing to leave if you serve them a curdled drink.

Wassail Drink Recipes

A plethora of Wassail recipe choices await you on the internet. You can find Wassails that are non-alcoholic, spiked, some that more closely resemble mulled wine than Wassail and others that stay true to the apple cider base.

Here is one recipe with warmed beer, Traditional Wassail Recipe, and another Wassail recipe that includes the eggs.

Yet another Wassail brew has Calvados as an ingredient. A specialty from Normandy, France, Calvados is an authentic apple brandy.

If you can't find Calvados, you could substitute any quality brandy. In truth, tossing an expensive Calvados in a mixture of several juices is a bit extravagant; you may wish to reserve it for more pure libations.

The Wassail Bowl. by John Gilbert, 1860.

Make Wassailing a Part of Your Traditions

The nice thing about Wassail is that it's not emphatically tied down to a specific date or even whether it is Christmas or New Year's – whichever timing works for you.

Or why not plan for both timings – Christmas for the caroling and January as a pick-me-up after the rush of the holidays? January is a nice time to sing to the trees.

Turn the old tradition of Wassailing into a new one for your family and friends. We should hear a lot more Waes hael and Drinc hael being shouted out around us.

A tradition has to start somewhere, and like they say, there's no time like the present.

Waes Hael – Good Health !

 

Winter Solstice, Celebrating Yuletide

Winter Solstice And Yuletide

The Winter Solstice draws near and is officially celebrated on 21 December. Since last June, the days have steadily grown shorter and the nights longer. On this date, we have the longest night of the year.

Once we pass the Winter Solstice, the nights turn around with a grand spiral and begin to shorten again. Each day stretches longer as we march toward spring.

Yuletide

Yule or Yuletide, is a derivative of "Yule time" meaning the season of Yule. It was a pagan religious festival observed by ancient Germanic peoples and was later absorbed into the Christian festival of Christmas.

Yuletide is accepted now as a period from 24 December to 06 January and is connected to the 12-day festival of Yule, later called Christmastide.

The use of the word, Yuletide, is first confirmed around 1475. In Swedish and Norwegian, you say Jul, and in Danish, Jól.

God Jul is how you say Good Yuletide, or Merry Christmas, in Swedish.

Celebrating Yuletide

Yuletide, in its earliest forms, was an important part of the Winter Solstice. Yule logs were brought into the house and kindled at dusk. The log would burn for 12 hours or even several days. It symbolized the protection of the light, to ensure it would return again in spring.

In England, it was considered unlucky to buy the Yule log. Money could not change hands to obtain it. It had to be acquired by other means, such as barter or as a gift. 

Yule logs were often gifted by landowners and decorated with pinecones and evergreen branches. In Cornwall, a figure of a man might be seen chalked on the surface of the log.

Keeping Of The Flame

Ashes from the Yule log were scattered over the fields as a blessing for successful crops. In Brittany, France, the ashes were thrown into wells to purify the water. 

Ashes were also used to make protective, healing or fertilizing charms. In Italy, these charms were created to protect against hailstones.

As the truncated days of winter draw near, we tender the flickering light of our candles and Yule logs. Symbolically, we protect the light to ensure it will survive the dark of winter, so that we may once again flourish in spring and summer. Rituals provide us comfort and meaning. 

Bûche de Noël Tradition

With the rise of Christianity, the celebration of Winter Solstice became wrapped in Christmas. In many countries, the old ways were sustained, but transformed.

By the 19th century, the Yule Log became a traditional Bûche de Noël  (Christmas Log) in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec. A Bûche de Noël is a  delectable chocolate sponge-cake rolled up to resemble a log. Details are added, such as sugar holly leaves or little mushrooms created from marzipan or meringue. Creative decorations flourish amongst bakers with their log desserts.

If you don't have a fireplace where you can burn your Yule Log (and even if you do), making an edible Yule log is a great option. A chocolate Yule log dessert is a solstice treat everyone can enjoy.

Cycles Of Our Days

As darkness falls, we must sleep, and so too, the Earth must slumber.

As humans, we tend to view the world through our egocentric eyes and all that exists is only what we perceive and experience. But, in fact, worlds and universes flourish out of range of our view.

We zip through our yearly 365 days in 24 hour spurts. To the Earth, we can imagine that the cycle of a day is much longer than our own. Like the 24-hour day that we have, perhaps the Earth's "day" consists of an entire year.

Spring is morning, summer is afternoon, fall is evening, and winter is nightfall – a time for sleep, rest and rejuvenation. (Artwork by Wendy Andrew.)

In spring, the Earth will awaken again to greet the morn.

A Time To Nurture Ourselves

Winter Solstice reminds us to nurture ourselves with warm comfort foods. Chunky stews, thick spilt-pea soup and casseroles with butternut squash grace our tables.

During the cold of winter, we warm our bellies with mashed or baked potatoes dug from the earth. As we gather over hearty meals, we feed both body and spirit. 

Is snow falling outside your window? Time to curl up with a book. Finally, a chance to catch up on those novels that were set aside during the busy, outdoor activities of summer.

With use of TRT® hands-on, students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®) nurture the light within. For the Winter Solstice, we focus on inner light , keeping our inner flame burning bright even through the darkness. 

Students of The Second Degree of TRT® can also direct radiant energy to the light of the planet during this time of earthly slumber. Use of TRT® expands from within the point of light.

God Jul, Good Yuletide and Happy Winter Solstice.