December Window

As I turn over the calendar on December first, I think of this nursery rhyme I read to my children when they were little:

“The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow,

And what will the robin do then, poor thing?

He’ll sit in the barn, and keep himself warm,

And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.”

Snow and cold and darkness were hard for my great-grandmother, especially when she became dependent on a wheelchair. In her journals she laments the absence of loved ones, but also takes joy in the presence of every-day comforts – a furnace, some sunshine, and her grandchildren.

"December Window," Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

“December Window,” Carol Crump Bryner, monoprint

Sunday, December 1, 1912 – “A nice day. My mother’s birthday – Ninety-two years old. Would like to see her today. She is a well preserved old lady, her great trouble being rheumatism which keeps her from getting around freely. I truly sympathize, being twenty years younger than she is in years, but sometimes think not so many in feelings. Snow still on the hills.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Friday, December 30, 1921 – “Nice day. Quite cold, below zero this morning – windows covered with frost. Couldn’t see out of them. The North window still has some left on it. I have been sitting in the Sitting room this morning in the sunshine to keep warm, the children with me. With the furnace fire and doors closed was very comfortable.” – Lydia Jane Hall

On Wednesday:  Afternoon Coffee

4 thoughts on “December Window

  1. Michael Foster


    I was astonished to see the nursery rhyme, the words of which are so familiar to me as a song that my mother used to sing as we were growing up . She had learned it as a Campfire Girl in Oregon, sung with a stereotypical Scandinavian accent. She can still be persuaded to sing it at our annual smorgasbord, after we all share a couple of shots of akvavit in between courses. There is a very long tradition among many peoples of celebrating the shortest day of the year and looking forward with hope to a warm spring. During the cold and snowy days to come, we should take a lesson from Lydia and appreciate the basic pleasures of heat, light and enough food to sustain us.

    Jill and I drove by the Norton cottage on our way home from Hammonasset yesterday. While some things have changed in the area, it is still the quintessential New England summer home, gazing out to the Sound and promising relaxing good times and warm family gatherings. How lucky you all are to have the memories of that wonderful spot and the chance to make more.

      1. Michael Foster

        “Rabbit” was for luck on the first day of the month. I forget that we don’t all have the same superstitions. My Mom still has a pretty good voice, accent and all.

    1. Margaret Norton Campion

      Mike, I’m glad that you and Jill drove by the cottage, and hope you will do it again when the weather is warm. Come and sit on the porch with us and go for a swim if it is hot! Please do! Yes – though there are some improvements on the inside, it is still very much its “old self.”
      I loved hearing about your Mom, singing that song. (This blog brings out so much good stuff.)
      And! I knew exactly what your “Rabbit!” meant! :o)


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