Another month closes her sleepy eyes until next year. February, the month of hearts and arrows, snow and small stirring of spring.
This is a leap year and this leap day won't visit again for four years.
When I look back on a few things I found in February, I smile. Do you ever come around the corner in your own home and find something sweet, a kiss, a wink or a smile? I found that heart-shaped light shining on my dining room wall. That was a finding. Sometimes, maybe most times, what we need to learn is very near, right under our noses.
I look back every month and it always seems my lessons are small, sometimes just a remembering, but then like waking up. In February I call them findings, kisses on my life.
This first one is a remembering.
1.Greet yourself and everyone else with a smile at your front door.
Your front door nesting doesn't have to be fancy or elaborate. In fact, its better if it is plain and simple and can change with the seasons. Here are a few tips to make your front door a happy face, not just for visitors, but for you and the family that calls it home.
When I drive up to my house, I love to see the porch lights on. As evening falls, I try to remember to turn the porch lights on for whoever might be coming through the door. It is a sign of love and home and someone waiting for you. I was usually the one at home, but nowadays, I might be the last one into our cozy nest and I have asked my family to light the porch for me.
Hang a wreath or two on your doors. I used to change my wreaths with the seasons, but now I keep my favorite burlap wreaths up all year long and change something about them. In February, I added arrows for Valentines Day, for how I am still smitten with Mike after thirty years.
For more than a year now, arrows have been finding their way into my early morning poems.
It was springtime when I wed you
In the sunlight
By the flowering magnolia
Shining moons in her leaves
Where we jumped, tied the knot
At the river bend
My heart flies like an arrow in the send
Terri Conlin, Magnolia Moons
This Lenten season, arrows have been my own way to recognize the way to Good Friday.
My mama usually sends me a happy doormat every few years. I like the thick coir kind wide enough to anchor my double doors. It might seem like an "interesting" gift, but I think of her every time I cross it. My mama knows these kind of things, things of the heart and soul and smiles from the front porch.
Here is how I was greeted in a local shop recently, the one where I found the arrows for my wreaths. Call me darling and I want to come on in.
Hello Darling, come on in.
A sitting spot.
If there's room, add a sitting spot, a bench, a porch swing or even a single chair under the eaves. It's welcoming to have spot to sit or leave a package out of the rain.
Right now I have a yellow bench cozied up to the window and a wine barrel from a friend's wedding.
What do you want your front porch to say?
The second finding is from a book, of course.
2.I love the pearly grays.
I mostly read non-fiction, but every once in a while, I find a good story and the world goes away. I found one recently by Jenny Wingfield called The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. It was heartbreaking and beautiful and it had a strong heroine whose name was Swan. Only later did I realize her last name was Lake. I was smitten at the first sight and sound of that.
Don't you just love it when someone captures the words of something you love, but perhaps have never named? For me that ringing bell is all over Scripture; the song of reunion, of soul story, of Big Love. In this story, Toy's favorite time of day is the "pearly grays", "the soft perfection that envelops the world right before dawn".
I thought to myself, 'I know that time'. It is one of my favorite times of day and I am often sad when I miss it.
The pearly grays are also my best writing time when my house is still asleep and I am listening to world wake up. It always seems so full of possibilities. The day could become so many things. This is the time I am writing to you.
The phrase "the pearly grays" caught my eye immediately and fell into rhythm with my heartbeats. It prompted a poem by the same name. Here are the opening lines I woke with the morning after I finished the book,
I was up in the pearly grays
He called them,
Snow lit the ghostly dark
I woke up to grace
Tears on my sheets,
The moon gone to lace
Terri Conlin, Pearly Grays
My third finding has launched it's own post. Coming soon. Here is where it began.
3.Braille is night writing.
On the battlefields of Napolean's day, a single shining light to read a message could reveal a troop's location to the enemy with deadly results. Captain Charles Barbier de la Serre had seen it with his own eyes and it haunted his dreams. He needed a quick and secret way to send messages without revealing his men's coordinates. Captain Barbier devised a tactile dot and dash writing system for his soldiers to communicate and keep safe during wartime.
After the war, Barbier took his "night writing" to the School for the Blind in Paris where a young boy named Louis Braille touched it and a light went on. Suddenly, he could see and be seen. Louis soon simplified the alphabet into a six dot language to fit under his fingertip. He was fifteen.
When he was just twenty, Louis went on to write a book about his alphabet in French including musical notes. A few years later he became one of the first blind teachers to the blind with his new fingertip alphabet.
I recently saw Braille wedding rings each with the bride and groom's names in raised diamond dots. It made me think all they must feel when they reach for each other's hands and find their own name there or absently twirl their wedding bands as we tend to do.
He didn’t have to say it
But he wrote it in the sky,
He sang it at their wedding
His staying song made her cry,
Touching her face like he did
With his hand on her veil
His words and his heart
Raised in holy Braille
Terri Conlin, See
Looking back on February, I can see so many signs of spring stirrings, of love and kisses, all coming through the rain.
I wonder what March will bring?