Awaiting Spring

The savéd day has lit our travels here!
sing wingéd friends who end their southern sojourn.
Gold, white and purple heads from bleak beds cheer,
a fragrant witness to Spring’s joyful earth-turn.

“Awaiting Spring” © 2018 V. Barrett

A few days of mixed-bag weather – snow tantrums, gentle flakefalls, freezing rain and graupel (one of my most favouritest words ever) – have prompted me to post some photos of a recent trip to a local plant nursery/garden shop.

This is a place I go at the change of every season, not so much for retail therapy but to reap the benefits of a delightful visual feast. (I do feel rather strange, skulking behind shelves, trying to hide all the price tags before furtively snapping photos with my phone; so far I haven’t been caught or asked to cease and desist. Ah, what I do for my art.)

Whoever puts these displays together knows what they’re doing, and the pastel-hued Spring and Easter vignettes this year didn’t disappoint. Plus, there’s plenty of green for St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy!

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One Foggy Night

In a haunted wood one evening drear,
along the bank of a river clear,
I felt my cheek by cold lips kissed;
’twas no ghost, but November mist.

“November Mist” © 2017 Valerie Barrett. All rights reserved.

Of course I meant to publish this poem last month, but time has once again run away on fleet and ruthless feet!

I’ve written about my love of fog before. Sadly, fog is a fairly rare phenomenon where I live. A couple of days ago, however, I woke very early to a world blanketed by a dense and eerie mist, and captured this image.

A friend recently introduced me to the London Fog latte, a wonderfully comforting drink, especially for this time of year. Major coffee chains sell something similar, but few if any of them use the mystery ingredient – lavender – which gives this version its deliciously ethereal quality. The citrusy bergamot of Earl Grey tea combined with lavender, sugar, and foamy, vanilla-laced milk is like strolling misty wet cobblestone laneways in December whilst snugly wrapped in a herringbone wool coat and soft cashmere muffler.

You can make this recipe with or without frothing the milk. (Handheld frothers, whether manual or battery-operated, are available for less than $20.) When warming the milk, make sure it doesn’t scald or boil.

London Fog Latte (makes 1-2 servings)

• 1 Earl Grey tea bag
• 1 cup boiling water
• ½ tsp dried lavender flowers
• ½ cup hot milk (steamed or frothed if desired)
• sugar to taste
• ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Brew tea and lavender together for about 5 minutes. Remove tea bag and lavender (strain out if necessary). Stir in milk, sugar and vanilla. Enjoy!

In Her Finest Silver

Harvest full moon, 5:13 a.m. EDT Oct 05 17

“Awake, arise!” she whispered,
so I knuckled my eyes and looked to the skies
and saw her there, in white lace and silver resplendent,
and she smiled down at my sighs.
If ever I took a lover, I said,
’twould be she.

“In Her Finest Silver” © 2017 Valerie Barrett. All rights reserved.

 This month’s full moon rises just after sundown and sets at sunrise, making it the only time of the month, depending on the viewer’s latitude, that the moon is visible all night long. It is named the Harvest Moon because it’s the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, which occurred on September 22.

The October full moon is also named the Hunter Moon by some indigenous tribes because it was the time to hunt, to lay in provisions before winter.

Full Moon Rituals: Gaze at the full Moon in all her splendour, letting her cleanse and recharge you • Meditate in the light of the full moon • Burn sage to cleanse your home • The full moon is a time of abundance as well as release and letting go; give away old clothes or items you no longer need in order to create space for new abundance, or donate food to a food bank

Harvest Moon Diffuser Blend: 6 drops tangerine • 1 drop cinnamon • 1 drop clove

Acorn Magick: Acorns are a symbol of knowledge and foresight; ancient seers used to chew acorns when preparing for prophesy (do not consume, as acorns contain toxic tannins)  • Gathered during a full moon, acorns are said to attract faeries, bringing enchantment and good luck throughout the month • Place an acorn on a windowsill or your altar to promote wisdom and prosperity, or carry one (preferably one that’s been de-maggotized!) on your person as an amulet to banish loneliness

Scenes from a Witch’s Cottage (Part 3)

The hummingbird hovers, the goldfinch alights
A leafy green path ’neath the lofty pine beckons:
“Come ye to the woods, seek their earthen delights
where oaks count the hours and bright toadstools, the seconds.”Willow basket in hand, she heeds sylvan call
and wanders past foamflower and lowbush blueberry,
whispers welcome to trees, with a silent footfall,
she soaks up the magick of old forest Faerie.A lighthouse stands guard on the point, giving warning:
Wave-lapped rocks – sailors’ bane! – warmed by midsummer heat.
Her throne a moss pillow bedewed from the morning,
she rests, breathes in pine-scented air, soft and sweet.How wondrous the isle where the woods are enchanted!
How sparkles the sun on the diamond-like water!
How blessed is she in her sturdy white cabin,
where secrets are passed from wise mother to daughter!

Scenes from a Witch’s Cottage, Part 3
© 2017, Valerie Barrett

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Writing Rocks

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Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop fountain pen in Turquoise Dots; Winsor & Newton drawing ink for dip pens in Cobalt; leather-bound journal

Blocked

Fingers romance a steaming cup –
small comfort when the night sighs
like a sleeping husband.
Dawn approaches; I’m alone with the keys,
beseeching the blue screen.
I call for the iron horseman,
hero of my pages
who has forsaken me:
Quit the shadows, and finish this thing.

“Blocked” © 2017 Valerie Barrett. All rights reserved.

Stones for Writers and Artists

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Celestite, an excellent crystal for writers, complements this J. Herbin glass dip pen in Sky Blue and Noodler’s fountain pen ink in Walnut

When writer’s block strikes or creativity wanes, some people believe crystals help refocus their energies. Blue topaz, for example, is known as “the writer’s stone” because it is said to enhance written and verbal communication; public speakers may find it inspiring, too. The following stones are said to be helpful for writers, artists and craftspeople. Note that many of these crystals are blue-green, the colours of the throat chakra which is associated with the voice, communication, creativity, truth and expression.

Clear the mind / invite inspiration:  amethyst, lapis lazuli
Remove mental blocks:  bloodstone, celestite
Find focus:  agate
Restore confidence to speak effectively:  aquamarine, turquoise
Enhance creativity:  amazonite, aventurine
Promote patience:  moonstone
Improve communication:  blue topaz, sodalite

dsc_8957-4Here are two treatments of the same subject; I haven’t decided which I like better:

Haiku #1
in creeps frosted light
December’s dark mist no more –
the pagan wheel turns

Haiku #2
a frigid day dawns
months yet before the warming –
the turn of the year

“Haikus for January” © 2017 Valerie Barrett. All rights reserved.