Walking Companions
Start As You Mean To Go On

In the Bleak Midwinter

These days the sun makes it just over the treeline and then sighs in exhaustion and starts to set.  The short hours of daylight make me eager to follow the sun's lead and head for bed early...say 5 o'clock.  But in the weeks leading up to the winter solstice,  it was the seemingly endless, impenetrable darkness that made the Christmas lights' glow all the brighter. 

Pink reindeer 120810
I love the traditional New England, understated candle in each window look, but I couldn't capture one with my camera.  So here are a few houses that are classic, in a slightly more lavish way.

This house is in Winchester.  I assume the garland of fruit above the door must be fake, but from the sidewalk it looked quite real.   It made me think of the historic homes of Portsmouth NH, where citrus was used as a sign of wealth and hospitality, especially in the cold of winter. 

Toy soldiers 120310
This house made me want to just stand and stare.  And I did, until I started to worry that someone would notice.    I love the child-sized toy soldiers guarding the entrance and the Christmas tree filling those floor to ceiling windows.  I wonder what it's like to be on the inside of a house with that sort of window.  Do you feel like you're in a fishbowl or do you become oblivious to it?  They're absolutely lovely from the outside.  

I've only seen such windows on historical homes, which makes me wonder how the original inhabitants ever stayed warm through a Massachusetts winter.  The only thing I can imagine is that it was a symbol of wealth, the sort of thing that says "I'm so rich I can afford to be wasteful", just like owning a Hummer today. 

Lex center

I get nostalgic at the site of the big, orb-like Christmas lights (like the ones in the first picture in this post), but I'm happy to say that a couple years  ago our town took up a donation to change all the town holiday lighting to more efficient LED bulbs. 

IMG_3988 The trees on Mass Ave appear draped in fairly lights.  I was walking under them last week during a snow shower and it was like walking through a snow globe.

Mass Ave
Just take a look at the beautiful holiday display the newest addition to downtown created.  Don't you just want to spend a wintry afternoon in there surrounded by books?  At the time they hadn't even opened yet, but thanks to this display (and my love of children's books) I can't wait to make The Elephant's Trunk a walk destination.  I've found having an enticing destination can be the difference between putting on enough gear to face the cold for a walk, and staying inside quilting with a mug of hot cocoa. 

Elephants Trunk
Early each December Lexington has a shopper's night where the stores stay open past dinner (the usual closing time for all but the restaurants and the movie theater), Santa arrives via a firetruck, the symphony does a great holiday concert and carolers stroll the streets and shops.  Here's a quick video of one performing group.  I couldn't quite decide if it was rude or not to tape them, so I tried not to make it too obvious.


Lexington symphony 120310 Santa at the Lexington Symphony

One of my favorite walks I took this holiday season was through a residential area while listening to A Christmas Carol.  I've seen quite a few plays and movie adaptations of the story, but the original text has such wonderful description it's almost a new story.  Take for example this line from a description of the Christmas party Scrooge's first employer gave. "In came a fiddler with a music-book and went up to the lofty desk, and made such an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches".  Who would think to compare a sound to a stomach ache?  Yet it works, I heard it and I knew just what a racket was being made.  If you'd like to hear the story (and get some great insight into why it's called a carol and other things you may never have considered before), check out Craftlit.

I think I've mentioned before that I often associate a certain place with what I was listening to when I walked there.  A Christmas Carol, and specifically Marley's chains will come to mind each time I walk past this grandstand.  You might recognize it from my post about summer music.


And this lovely home is now connected in my mind to the party the Ghost of Christmas Past has Scrooge revisit.

Now Christmas is past, and once the new year begins the lights will slowly disappear from people's homes.  Officially the days are getting longer once again, so I suppose we don't need those lights quite so much to brighten our days and nights.  But it was truly a feast for the eyes while it lasted.  I'm looking forward to next year's.

  Creche 120810




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Craig Milley

Great post, T-Crock, with lots of gorgeous pics! Lexington is lovely in December with the brick and the formal white lights everywhere. Give me the "big, orb-like Christmas lights" anyday over the teeny-weeny little LED lights, regardless of energy efficiency! I cant wait to visit that new bookstore. Happy new year.

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