The last month of the year is upon us once more, and this time I am looking forward to enjoying the festive season in a somewhat quieter and more mindful way. I was awake early this morning, just as I often am, but today I felt a little bit of excitement at the date, which for me signifies the beginning of the build up to Christmas. I crept downstairs just after 5.30am. as once I'm awake I find it impossible to just lie in bed, preferring instead to get up and enjoy the quietest part of the day with a mug of coffee and, today at least, some bright moonlight for company.
When dawn eventually broke it was bright and sunny and there had been a light frost overnight, which was a reminder, if any was needed, that winter is almost upon us. Quite a contrast to the weekend, in which the sky was overcast and the air felt damp. On Saturday we went for a walk way across the fields and through the woods, as there was something important we needed to search for. Every Christmas Lily's advent calendar is made up of 24 tiny knitted stockings, and into each one I put a small chocolate wrapped in foil. These are usually hung from a stick which we find on one of our walks in the run up to December. Now, this stick has to meet certain requirements. It needs not to be too long or too short, too thick or too thin, it must be just right. This sounds like it should be straightforward but many have been rejected in the search for the perfect stick : )
Wrapped up well and wearing our wellies, we walked along past the stream and towards the pond where we thought we had found just the right stick, then following the field track, we were soon trudging our way through the mud and into the woods where the carpet of leaves has now lost their bright autumn colour and are to beginning to fade and break down. This is where another stick caught our eye. A little straighter and more sturdy than the last, it was quickly exchanged and, after a quick break for some chocolate (and a visit to the farm shop to collect something special for this year's tree) we returned home allowing it to dry out completely before decorating.