“Mommy, maybe it will snow tomorrow,” my little Farmer boy half asks, half declares at bedtime. He looks longingly out the bedroom window, white curtain brushed aside and fingertips pressed to the cool glass.
“Maybe . . . ” I offer tentatively, kindly. The forecast shows temperatures in the 50s and 60s for days on end, the chance of snow only real in the mind of a hopeful child who leaves a snow shovel outside the front door each night, an invitation.
“Only God knows what weather He will send,” I finish saying, a favorite reminder of mine, continually relayed to the children.
My Farmer Boy stands at the window and prays for snow. He isn’t one to pray silently. He prays out loud with a faith that makes me stop and listen well, I who taught him to pray in the first place. The student becoming the teacher. Two students actually, he and I, with one mighty Teacher, the Giver of the Snow.
There is no snow for Christmas but there are snow-white camellias blooming on vibrant green bushes outside the kitchen window as I make cranberry jam to usher in the new year. Bright red jars of promise. Jam to pour on top of a scone, jam to drizzle on top of vanilla ice cream. I think of the end of Proverbs 31: she does not fear the snow because she and her household are clothed in scarlet.
December is a peculiar month to welcome ducklings to our little hobby farm but they come just the same, six little bundles of puffy yellow joy. They spend the first several weeks in a metal washtub in the house and swim (on days I can manage it) in the bathroom sink. When they outgrow their space I move them to the barn and they live under a heat lamp until they soon grow white fluffy down for warmth. Every passing day they are less baby-yellow and more grownup-white. They are warmed by our Heavenly Father. Before the snow flies, he dresses them warmly.
It is two days before the new year and I am sound asleep in my bed as morning dawns over the Blue Ridge. In my dream, it is snowing. I am running with my Little Farmer Boy and snow falls all around us. I reach my hands to gather the snow but stop short as it is warm and soft in my hands. I look closely and see that it isn’t snow at all but downy soft duck feathers. We glance up and see millions and millions of feathers falling down around us.
“You see, my love, I tell my Little Farmer Boy as the feathers tickle our faces, “only God knows what weather He is going to send!” My boy reaches out for me. His fingers lace through mine and he pulls me in a circle, faster and faster, with his head thrown back in little boy laughter. The world is a blur of love and down. I could stay for ages in this holy place but little feet pitter-patter into the bedroom and I am pulled most reluctantly from my dream.
“Mommy, mommy!!!” My children call expectantly. I open my eyes and see my 4 year-old just inches from my face. He grips my cheeks inside his precious little hands and together with his brother says, “you’ll never guess!!”
The curtains are thrown back and the world outside our window is covered in the finest dusting of December snow. The children are silhouetted against the window. Maybe an answered prayer is more precious when the answer takes its time in coming.
I brace for the commotion to follow: the boots and the mittens and the tracking inside the house. All the while I thank God for His provision. I toast thick slices of bread and spread them generously with cranberry jam. I daydream about feathers falling as I watch the children out the window, my husband’s hand warm and sure on my back.
Clothed in Scarlett Cranberry Jam
2 bags fresh cranberries (approximately 6 cups)
1 cup orange juice
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbl orange zest
Combine all ingredients in large pot (I use a dutch oven) and bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When mixture comes to a boil, the cranberries will pop open. Stir well (and carefully, as cranberries popping may splatter a bit) and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Allow jam to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. As jam cools, use a potato masher to blend and thin jam. Jam will thicken as it cools. When cooled, store in mason jars in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Enjoy, share, gift!
Happy New Year, Friends!