Monday, December 31, 2012

Solstice lights

At sundown on December 21, E solemnly lit the Solstice Elk. In a minor key, with a meandering melody and awkward phrase length that evoked the awkwardness of our inquisitive meandering forebears, we improvised a new song: "Solstice Elk, O Solstice Elk, we welcome your presen[ce/ts] and the return of the light."

The Solstice Elk is a practical beast and an evolving metaphor. He has a key to the house and uses the front door; no chimney entries for him. (This was all news to my mom, who was joining us for Solstice for the first time.)

Solstice Elk with antlers ablaze

The Solstice Elk was generous this year. Among the treasures he left between the fish tank and the fireplace were a big box of Space Chips...

Solstice loot light
...and a joyful re-purposing of otherwise unused ear plugs.

AND...E and S both built me spray booths! (At first, I thought S's was a gas kiln; you can imagine my surprise when I unwrapped it.)

Having maxed out on our traditional arbitrary Solstice menus (most recently, homemade noodles for, um, longevity; previously, veggie sushi and hybrid cousin cake for, um, health and nuts), we started a new tradition: tomato bisque with homemade pesto, reduced saffron cream, and warm crostini (for, um, vibrancy and contentment). S, who has lived in the U.S. for 23 years, finally suffered such strong German Christmas cookie withdrawal symptoms this fall that he went into a baking frenzy and made 150 Plätzchen in four varieties, so we ate some of those for dessert.

Three days later, on Christmas Eve, our Solstice lights reignited on a grand scale when our backyard compost pile went up in flames. We're grateful for alert neighbors who saw the fire before we did and came banging on the door, and we thank Durham's finest for putting out the fire; they said they could see the smoke plume all the way from King's Sandwich Shop downtown. On the bright side, no one was hurt, no buildings were damaged, and we had been intending to replace the fence eventually anyway. On the down side, even though the event provided some good visceral excitement, I can't, in good conscience, recommend trying this at home.

Generally not what you expect to see in front of your house

Generally not who you expect to see turning your compost pile

The ghost of fences past

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