Saturday, December 11, 2010

Angels on High

   I can truly say I am done working in the garden for a few months now.  We are in the midst of a winter blizzard and by the looks of things, come morning we'll have over 12" of snow on the ground.  I went out this afternoon in the midst of the storm to buy groceries in case we get snowed in.  Just before dark,  Carl and I went out to deal with a few last minute chores.  Since we are getting 'snowage' of epic proportions, I decided it was time to put away the lawn chairs we still had out by the campfire ring.  Hard to believe last weekend we had a campfire, my, what a difference a week makes in the winter.  The wind is howling through the trees in the woods and the snow is pelting the house.  It is a good time to stay indoors, nice and snug.

I really don't know what it would be like to garden all year round.  This was the first year since 2002 that we didn't have a major garden project in the works right up until the snow put an end to it.   I can honestly say it is a relief to be able to take a break from the garden for a few months and concentrate on things in the house that need doing.  (And boy, do things need doing.)

Last weekend we were working on clearing out the lower limbs from our eight acres of white pine trees and while Joel had the chain saw out, I asked him to cut down a small volunteer Scotch pine I had growing on the back of the quarry hill.  The tree had come up from seed a few years back, having sprouted in a rock crevice.  I decided to let it grow and harvest it for the holidays.  No, it is not a beautiful tree by any means, but it's homegrown and free.
Since the tree is little, I don't have enough room for all the decorations I own (and I do have way too many) but there are two very special ornaments that always had a place on the tree every Christmas for the last seventy years.
With her body made out of a clothespin and her wings made from a pipe cleaner covered in tin foil, wearing a  robe made from an old curtain, this angel is always on our tree.
Along with this angel, with  her pipe cleaner arms and halo.
My mother, Lucille, doesn't think they are special at all, but that's because she made them back in 1940, the first year she was married.  The Depression was supposedly over by that time, but money on the farm was tight that Christmas.  Mom said she had a tiny little Christmas tree to decorate with one set of twelve blue light bulbs, a few blue plastic bell ornaments and nothing else.  Mom was a 20 year old farm wife and had daily chores to do, milking cows twice a day, getting up before sunrise and going to bed very late some nights, but she loved to craft, so she transformed pipe cleaners, clothespins and an old curtain and some aluminum foil into angels for their tree. 

 By the time I was born in 1958, the little angels were already 18 years old, and every year when Mom and I decorated the tree, she would sigh with embarrassment when she found the two angels in the box of ornaments.  One year, she threw them both in the wastebasket and I was  horrified.  I ran and fished them back out and made her promise not to ever throw the two angels away again.   Mom tsk-tsked at me, but agreed she wouldn't.

    When I got married and moved to our new home, Mom gave me all her Christmas ornaments, and the little angels came along.  When our two boys were little, I told them we had to hang the angels close to the top of the tree so Grandma couldn't reach them (Mom's only 5' tall) because once again, she was so embarrassed to see them on the tree.  The boys readily agreed to guard the angels because they were Special and helped me hang them far, far up in the tree to protect them from Marauding Grandma.

"Why do you keep those silly old things?" she chided me again this year.  "You have so many other beautiful, fancy ornaments for your tree."

It was my turn to tsk-tsk her.

No, they are not fancy or made from costly materials, but they are priceless to me.

The angels turned 70 this year.   
My dear mother turned 90.

Yes, our tree is short, but it is still taller than my mother, and the angels are at a high enough elevation to be safe for one more Christmas.  

But we'll still keep an eye on Grandma.


Alison said...

Oh Karen! You brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye! (And I have a tendency to cynicism, so that is not an easy feat). Then you made me laugh. Hope Lucille never gets her hands on those lovely, memory-laden ornaments again.

What treasures!

Sandy said...

God Bless your Mom...and the 70yr old angel is just breathtaking...
Although I left Central Illinois to get away from all the cold and snow, seeing your photos and how beautiful it is around your home, it makes me want to be back there for the Holidays.(but not too long a stay).
Enjoy snuggling indoors by the warmth of the fire.
Happy Holidays Karen to you and your family.

Sandy said...

I forgot to tell you how much I love your header photo.. the deer lit up are just wonderful for such a setting....

FlowerLady said...

Oh Karen what a dear story about those two lovely angels. They are priceless that is for sure. I think your tree is absolutely lovely. If we lived in the woods, and could cut down our own tree, I'd want a quirky tree that wasn't all perfect.

Thank you for sharing your angels on high. I think it is just wonderful that your mother was and still is so creative. Those angels are sweet and highly collectible.

I'm glad you are able to take a break from gardening this winter. Enjoy your indoor projects.

Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady said...

I loved your story about the angels, especialy since your dear mother made them. I have an angel ornament from my mother also. It was one she gave me in 2008. She passed last Christmas at 78;I really miss her.

I wish your mother many more years. I also have an ornament my 92 year old neighbor gave me. Her father carved it when he was a kid. It is on my living room tree. My neighbor has moved to assisted living, but is doing great. Lots of more years left for her. I always joked that she will outlast me.

Your urn is gorgeous and the urn itself is a twin to mine.I moved mine indoors for the winter because of the annuals and dressed it with greens like you did.

Your little tree just screams Christmas. I was going to get a tabletop one this year, but changed my mind. I love smaller trees. Yesterday at the farm, a couple picked one out in the field the size of their six year old boy. He was given the saw to cut it down. So cute and I have the photos too.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Karen, those angels are wonderful! I love decorations that make us think of times past. You guys need a rest after all of the work you do.


Zoey said...

What wonderful ornaments! 70 years old! They are true heirlooms. I bet your mom is actually very touched that you insist on saving them.

One year we went and cut down a tree from our wooded lot. I called it the Charlie Brown tree because it was sparsely limbed and quite small. But once it was all decorated I really began to like it. There is just something special about taking a tree from your own property.

Your outside arrangement looks nice. I never did get mine done. I was planning on a wreath outside the garage. Maybe you have inspired me enough to go out and get it done yet today.

I hope you are enjoying your snowday as much as I am. I just hope I can get to work tomorrow morning. We live on a dead end road and it is one of the last to be plowed. If we get the 15 inches they were talking about, I will never be able to get out. Well, I won't worry about that until tomorrow.

noel said...

aloha karen,

such a treasure, yes you collected some of the most valuable treasures/memories to last you and your children a lifetime. it goes to show that the most important things are family and the memories we share together...thanks for sharing this wonderful story and the angels are heavenly.

aloha from hawaii.

Toni - Signature Gardens said...

Beautiful story:-) My mom grew up in the depression and anything "old" to her is basically junk. She doesn't see the sentimental value. I suppose in the whole scheme of eternity, it is all just "stuff," but while we are on this earth, I know those angels bring a smile to your face every Christmas :-)

Sall's Country Life said...

Karen, God Bless your mother and everything she's been through! I love your home-grown tree...I love old-fashioned traditions at Christmas time. Enjoy your winter break, we got only 1 inch of snow here, but the wind blew it all on the road (thank you soybean farmers!) We're racking our brain as to where we could move to for 3 months???? I guess it won't be Wisconsin.

Greenearth said...

Love your angels. Wish we could still get those wooden clothes pegs.

We used to turn them into dolls when we were children. With their two legs and face at the top they just needed a dress.

Joy can be found in such simple things.

Dragonfly Treasure said...

Your tree is lovely and your Mothers Angels are too. They are a priceless treasure. Such a special heirloom and story to pass on.

xoxoxo said...

Tears here too! Angels WAYYYY up high-Love it.
Before we bought this house we always wanted to have a row of 10 fir trees, so we could harvest one and replant each year for a continuous supply of trees.. but this lot just wont work for such lofty dreams. You are a true gardener--with her own Christmas tree!

Beth said...

Karen, Your Scotch Pine looks beautiful! How nice to have a homegrown tree. And to have the smell of a real tree...awwwww...heavenly! Thanks for sharing your story about the angels. They truly are special and precious. I am glad that you are happy to take a gardening break. Enjoy your time indoors and don't forget to spend some time relaxing!
Hugs, Beth