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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wassail

Now Christmas is over
The New Year begins
Please open your door
And let us come in
With our wassail. . .

Reindeer enduring the invasion of the carolers
Don't let the silence fool you.  It isn't that things have been quiet, more like I've been too busy to sit down and write about it all.  Here it is, Plough Monday, and I'm only just looking over the photographs from Christmas Eve.



D. is at the airport waiting to board the red-eye to New York and I find myself without pressing engagements, rehearsals, performances, last minute cooking or sewing projects, packages to wrap or or send, or even laundry to do.  Phew!

View from the top of Queen Anne hill
Christmas itself was very quiet, featuring a climb to the top of Queen Anne hill and gathering free-range rosemary for our supper. But the rest of  the last few weeks have been a blur of singing, dancing and making merry culminating in the ninth annual Seattle Wassail.

Wassailing is an old winter time tradition from the apple growing regions of southern England. It involved traveling around the local orchards singing and toasting the apple trees to encourage them to bear a good crop.  Oddly enough, the first wassail we ever participated in was in Brooklyn. As far as I know not a single apple tree was serenaded at that event,  but it was a great excuse for a progressive party.
In Washington, apple growing is very important to the economy, and even in the city apple trees are everywhere. The Seattle Wassail took the form of a schoolbus load of singers, morris dancers, musicians, and friends progressing around Greenlake and Wallingford.  Following a schedule of pre-arranged stops, we sang to the trees, danced in driveways (or the street) and enjoyed the hospitality of our hosts. In a special event at the Meridian playing field, members of the public joined in the celebrations. Cider and apple cake were shared, songs sung and a huge ring of dancers of all ages circled gingerly in the mud around the apple trees.  Sadly your intrepid reporter was having so much fun that the camera phone lay utterly forgotten in the bottom of the bag. Suffice it to say, a good time was had by all, and given the energy and enthusiasm of the participants, we're expecting a fine apple crop next year.

Now we enter the deep dark days of winter, when the holiday decorations are packed away, the parties and performances are over, and the glittery, spangly, gaudiness is stowed away for another year. Time to focus on work and grimly hang on til February is over and we can start looking forward to spring. When we lived in England I used to think there was a good reason the second month was the shortest.   It can be seriously bleak and dismal. However, my sister in North Pole Alaska assures me that the days are growing noticeably longer, so summer is on its way.