Another solstice

I had a long conversation on the phone with Allen today. Remember Allen? He was the friend who accompanied me to Patagonia to spend the months of winter in a rather remote place. He’s feeling a bit nostalgic for the winter solstice we observed down there last June. He had found some discarded wooden pallets in the storage facility and broke them down to make a fire. It was quite a fire — and we used the leftover wood for a fire on July Fourth.

Allen has spent much of December rehanging Christmas lights that got blown down in recent storms at various family homes. He has found that if he keeps busy with strings of lights, he is less likely to get dragged to a mall — although one year, his wife forgot he was working up on the roof, and absent-mindedly took down the ladder and put it away before she drove off to the mall to do Christmas shopping. This was before he had a cell phone, and he couldn’t get any of the neighbors to hear him — so he was stuck up on the roof for five hours, unable to find any way to get down.

He has been busy with his chainsaw and has plenty of wood to take to another house for a fire on Christmas Eve, which is a HUGE occasion in his large extended family.

He’s very happy to hear that Alene is writing Zanda’s story — but disappointed that we still can’t find a way to be together. Allen is our one mutual friend — the only person who has known both me and Alene in Seattle. At times, he has been extremely sad for both of us. He wishes so much that we could be together for Christmas.

I joked that perhaps one day, we will end up on the same bus by accident — all three of us! He liked that — and added that we could then all go to the same bar!

These last six months went by far too fast….

Seasonal dislocation

Our winter solstice bonfire got us in a rather festive mood. But, this is the southern hemisphere — and it’s June — so Christmas won’t immediately follow. 

Now Allen is wishing we had thought to bring some simple Christmas decorations. We have Christmas weather. We have Christmas darkness. And we’re eating winter goodies washed down with rum-spiked cocoa. Might as well make the place look Christmassy.

So, we took sheets of notepaper, screwed them up into little balls, and threaded then onto string to hang from the ceiling. We also cut out snowflakes to decorate the windows. Martha Stewart would have been proud. And then when it got dark, we broke out a couple of emergency candles. 

Allen is now wondering about Halloween. I reminded him we may well have left here by then. But he wonders how that goes down under. It has always been a big deal in his family, and he enjoys decorating his house, including making several jack-o-lanterns for the porch. But if Halloween happens in spring, where does one get a pumpkin? 

It’s a good question. I suppose you can always buy a plastic one. Folks down under are probably well accustomed to making concessions in order to celebrate holidays aligned with the northern hemisphere. Perhaps Starbucks customers in Australia and New Zealand are served pumpkin spice lattes in spring.

Not that it really makes any difference to us. Or Alene. In Seattle, people are ordering iced coffee drinks and smoothies — but Alene still wants an Americano steaming hot!