Beauty Entering Winter

Schlumbergera truncataThe snow was yet thin on the lawn, and the gusts of wind kept birds from flight. Even the feeder remained unattended.

I watched the squalls swirl past my windows. The cloud breaks to the west allowed the sun’s light to tint the falling snow. Outside the winter-white storm turned a delicate coral. The hermitage glowed as if lit by ten thousand candles. I imagined it to be like the light of heaven and offered prayers for a few friends, recently deceased, that their purgatory be short.

From behind the cabinet I pulled the small olive green watering can and filled it with tepid water, adding a pinch of fertilizer—turning my fingertips blue. With the furnace running the houseplants dry more rapidly and, thankfully, they add humidity to this old house.

White Christmas CactusThe crab cacti (Schlumbergera truncata) were entering into full bloom—as they always do come November. I find these plants to be sturdy and beautiful with their flat scalloped branches arching up and over with abundant flowers held horizontal at the tips. The white cultivar in my office is my favorite—I’m very fond of white—and the rare yellow in my bedroom most prized. Earlier this year I gave a friend the twenty-three year old red one, which had grown too large for my small space.

The oratory window gives a softer northern light to two African violets and the white-edged Persian Cyclamen ‘Snowridge mini wine’. The violets are resting from a long summer of flowering so I let the soil dry a bit more. The cyclamen has recently shot up in all its glory. This houseplant is a rare visitor in my home. It is brash and unmistakable in its loveliness.Cyclamen

At the top of the stairs is a west window with two glass shelves, the top shelf shaded by the awning. This dimmest location is reserved for the white phalaenopsis orchid. Orchids fascinate me in their unconventional growth. The species are mostly epiphytic, growing in the crotches of trees, and  live shaded in the canopy of the rain forest. The good Lord created them to flourish above the earth with flowers reminiscent of heaven.

Look for the budding stalk five leaves down just left of center. See it? Good.

Look for the budding stalk five leaves down just left of center. See it? Good.

Unlike the crab cacti I am never sure when the orchid will reblossom. I’m delighted on this winter’s day to see a new budding stalk. Sometimes it takes three years to flower, and then again it’s only been five months since the last bud fell off. There may be flowers by the Epiphany!

In the quietness of my days the grace of peace of Our Lord replenishes my soul.

It is the flowering of friends that shapes my solitude and keeps prayers and love alive. There are the prolific writing friends who are prayed for to maintain moral stamina. Other writers who are brash in their unmistakable beauty receive prayers for spiritual courage. The unconventional orchid perseveres in flowering and I offer prayers for just such a woman whom I’ve spiritually adopted for a year.

All around there is love in the simplest of things. They are constant reminders of the affections from and to friends, to and from God.

There is beauty in the hardness of winter.

(I will be off line for the remainder Thanksgiving week, Please remember to pray for our Priests, Sisters and Nuns, and for all those discerning a vocation in a consecrated life.)

All images by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB