Anyway, we're here now, and it's raining now, and I'm pretty blissed out on Austin's wintertime. The rain's lifted during the past several days-- returning for encores at night-- leaving a dry, cool climate behind. I honestly haven't missed snow in the slightest (I could just never get warm in a Northeast December), and as far as I'm concerned, the outdoors air smells perfectly seasonally appropriate without it. Dry leaves, wind, big skies, a wood stove somewhere. It blends. Train whistles, birds of prey, Christmas lights, sunsets... You should see these sunsets. I don't dare take a photograph. It wouldn't compare. For months this past year, I didn't know what month it was. It got hot in late May and stayed that way for what felt like forever. It never rained. But now, there's no mistaking it. It's time for the solstice, for Christmas, for holidays in Texas land.
There's evidence of this indoors, too. A tree, a wreath, windows strung with lights. Gifts piled and stashed in expected, and unlikely, places. And it smells of Christmas. Today I simmered lime and lemon rinds with whole cloves and a teaspoon (or three) of ground cardamom. (Voila, instructions). The scents deepened and made their winding way through every room in the house. And tonight, I baked some cookies. I'll frost them tomorrow. If you're good, I'll give you my recipe.
I saw a commercial while at the gym the other night-- the gym provides my one legitimate excuse and opportunity for watching bad TV, and its commercials, as we mostly watch movies streamed on Netflix at home-- and saw a commercial for Jolly Rancher hard candies. Giant, colored bubble-words burst across the screen reading: Grape! Apple! Watermelon! Meanwhile the voice-over pimped the candies' "real fruit flavor". I wondered (while elliptisizing my way to nowhere for a significant period of time... Yeah, yeah. Glass houses): why not just eat a grape? Wouldn't that get the real-fruit-flavor job done? Then the commercial ended and I resumed switching between House Hunters International and Sixteen and Pregnant and forgot all about my fruit flavor questions. Yet I was reminded of them again today as I inhaled these real December smells, indoors and out; the leaves, the tree, the wreath, the citrus and cloves. I sure loved me some Glade candles-- and, come to think of it, Jolly Ranchers too-- back when I was a kid; now we don't use synthetic scents in our home at all, because Kaspar's a sensitive dude. And synthetic chemicals kill brain cells, so there's that. The main reason for this, though, is that these days I crave the real thing, whatever the thing happens to be. TV's ideal for gym-time entertainment; I lose myself in an hour of synthetics, of fluff (and formulate plans to move overseas... Where is it always raining?). I get buff doing it brainlessly like that, but that's pretty much all it's good for. Outside of gym time, I don't want to lose myself, or my hours. I want to find these things, to live real life, and savor it with all of my senses. The holiday season, and this darker, rainy, windswept time of year fills itself out with Christmas lights, wood fires and baked treats. Whether it bears formal religious significance for us or not, I think it'd be impossible not to notice that this season makes magic of little things, and declares all experience-- sights, smells, sunsets-- sacred.