Reasons to Like January

JanuaryNicola here. Sometimes I’ve been inclined to think of January as a long, dark, cold month without a lot going for it, but I was talking to a friend the other day and she saw the month in quite a different light.  “I love January,” she said. “I don’t spend much money and I get myself organised for the months ahead.” So as we approach Twelfth Night and the end of the traditional Christmastide, I thought I would muse on all the reasons there are to like January.

According to my Chambers Book of Days, the gemstone for January is the garnet and the birth flower is either the Feb 11th 2012 (48) snowdrop or the carnation. At Ashdown Woods the first green shoots of the wild snowdrops are already pushing through the ground. By the end of the month they will be starting to flower. The snowdrop’s Latin name is Galanthus, from the Greek for “milk flower”. In French the snowdrop is known as the “perce-neige” because it pierces the snow, and the Germans call it Schneeglöckchen, little snowbell, which are all such pretty names suiting its delicate beauty. It’s real reminder of spring on the way.

RainbowThis brings me to the weather. You may know the saying: “There’s no bad weather only bad clothing choices.” In my part of Northern Hemisphere it’s a time for scarves, gloves and hats and also waterproof layers. The rain may feel cold and raw but it’s also refreshing. And I love the sound the wind makes blowing through the bare branches of the trees. Darkness still arrives during the afternoon but the light lasts a little longer each day. My morning and evening walks give stormy skies and great views of the weather blowing across the Vale of the White Horse.

An old Celtic name for January was “the dead month” whilst the Anglo Saxons called it “Wolfmonath” which does send a Stencil.facebook-cover (3) shiver down the spine. It’s easy to see how January got its bad reputation. But there is so much pleasure in returning from a cold walk to a hot cup of tea, sitting down with a book whilst darkness falls outside, and enjoying the sense of new beginnings whether they are eagerly-anticipated TV shows or films, or a new course to join or a new interest to pursue.

What do you like – or even love – about January?

Settling into January

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

The holiday season is full of energy, buzz, decorations, fun, stress, deliciously decadent food, gathering with family and friends, receiving good surprises and sometimes disappointment.  The season is lovely–and it's also lovely when it's over and life goes back to normal!

At least, that's the case for this introvert.  Yesterday with the help of a friend and two of the cats (see pictures), I took down the tree and Reggie looking at the treepacked the ornaments away. 

I loved putting up the tree in December and the sparkly lights and ornaments with their own stories, but now I'm happy to have more open space in the living room again, less concern that a cat will bring the tree down, and I'm diligently picking up widely scattered strands of shiny tinsel.  

Recently a friend mentioned a book in which kids who wished it was Christmas all year round got their wish–and found they didn't like it.  Holidays are meant to be Smokey and the tinselspecial, and that means time limited.  

I usually like January because it's quiet, a good time for working and reading and nesting.  How about you?  Do you enjoy the end of the Christmastide season?  Or do you wish it could be Christmas all year round?

Mary Jo


The Joys of January

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

The holidays are over!  You've:

Roasted your turkey.

Navigated and possibly refereed your relations.

Watched or fled the football games.

Wrapped presents or shoved them all into gift bags because that's easier. Panda Xmas tree 2

Taken the ornaments away from the cat.

Eaten all the Christmas cookies/fruitcake/latkes and wished for more, or decided enough already!

Watched the ball drop at midnight of 12/31 to usher in 2015 (though in some Maryland towns, it might have been a crab, or a donut or a canvasback duck that dropped.  <G>)

Made your resolutions.

So now:


I like January because it's usually such a peaceful contrast to the holiday season. 

January is a good time for working. 

A good time to get together with friends to brighten up gray days. 

A good time to toss those resolutions that are totally unrealistic or involve self-hatred. Winter Wonderland

Instead, do things you enjoy.  Watch a favorite flash mob video.

Or a cat video(It's well know that the infrastructure of the internet is pictures of cats. <G>

Read a good book.

Read SEVERAL good books!  

Enjoy the peace. 

And maybe the bagpipe flash mob or Irish stepdancers.  <G>

What do you like to do in January?

Mary Jo

The Colors of January

Nicola here, talking about getting out and about in the dark days of January. Although the shortest day is gone the nights are still long and dark and in dull weather it sometimes feels as though there is little natural light at all. It's at times like this that my thoughts turn to the warmth and sunshine of the Southern Hemisphere!

I've been trying to get out as much as I can, walking the dog, enjoying the sunshine on the fine days, Redwing and looking at the colors of January. The natural world isn't as drab as it sometimes feels in the winter. On one of my walks the other day I saw this bird – a redwing – sheltering from the rain and wind in the hedgerow. When it flew I noticed that it had the most beautiful bright flashes of red on its side. There are plenty of other splashes of red about too; in the berries that line the hedges and brighten gardens.

DonningtonA few days ago we went on a trip to Donnington Castle near Newbury. Donnington is the ruin of a medieval castle that was destroyed in the English Civil War of the 17th century. The Civil War battlefied of Newbury (1644) is in the fields below the castle. It was a rare sunny day with gorgeous blue skies and we walked all round the castle site and the battlefield and along the river. The blue of the sky made a wonderful backdrop for the castle ruins.

Looking around the garden for color I've found the bright yellow flowers of my mahonia plant which also has a beautiful scent at this time of year and I guess it won't be long until the first bulbs start to appear…

Which colors of January do you like the best? The blue of the sky or the white of the snow? Or are you a Rochester and Meg lucky person living in a warm climate with many beautiful birds, flowers and other things to brighten the month? I'm sitting looking at the pewter grey sky as another storm rolls in so please do add some colors to my day!

(Angus hasn't seen snow yet so here is a picture of Rochester and his friend Meg enjoying last January's snow!)


Looking Forward… And Back

Fireworks.jpg 1Nicola here, wishing everyone a very Happy New Year from all
the Wenches! As well as being a new year it’s also a new month. January, which
was known as Wolfmonath in the Anglo Saxon calendar. In the Northern Hemisphere
January is a
Aconites dark month with long nights and winter weather. Yet it is also the
month when snowdrops and winter aconites start to push through the earth to
signal the start of spring so it is a time of new beginnings.

JanusJanuary takes its name from Janus, the Roman God of bridges
and doorways. Janus has two faces, looking both forward into the new year and
back to the old. So as well as being a time perhaps to make plans and
resolutions for the new year, January also gives us a chance to reflect on the
good things that happened in the past year. For me a couple of the UK highlights
were the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which made so many people feel incredibly proud
and patriotic, and the London Olympics, which created a mood of enthusiasm and
euphoria throughout the country. On a personal
Edinburgh note, training Rochester the Guide Dog puppy has been a
great experience and a research trip to Edinburgh was a real highlight.

forward into 2013, I am very excited about the launch of my new Regency series, Scottish
Brides, in the summer and also to some very special anniversaries during the year!

What about you? Do you have fond memories of 2012 and any
special plans for 2013?