Here we are, the last day of November in this funny-in-the-not-funny-kinda-way year. The last day of this year’s Nano Poblano. Standing atop the hill, looking back at the path that was blazed. Proud of us, all of us, however we did it – whether it was one day, many days, or the whole 30 days. We did it, and it all counts. The Cheer Peppers provided community at a time when in real life we are apart. That’s been precious.
At the beginning of the month, on day one, I wrote about Coming Home. It was in reference to both returning to blogging for Nano Poblano, and returning to myself. The days within November were full to the brim of both. Home isn’t always a place, it can sometimes be the feeling we get when we are with others; then, what a beautiful gift when we are at peace within the home that we inhabit – our very own physical body on this planet. Coming home is still a recurring theme.
There were days when I had to dig deep, days when all I could manage was to share photographs, days when I was able to tap into the writing flow; all kind of days. It’s been inspiring to once again see the posts of the Cheer Peppers, to witness all the creativity that gets poured into the melting pot; it kept me going. Nano Poblano – and NaBloPoMo – is hard work during a ‘normal’ year, let alone a pandemic year. Here in England, this month saw the return of lockdown, Lockdown Two; inspiration was largely pulled from the permitted walks in nature, and watching the fading beauty of autumn turn into the beginnings of winter.
A chill has found its way into the air, another layer or two is needed. Looking back across this month, these posts are a November quilt to pull close and snuggle under. They’re seeds that will take root and allow this blog to bloom once more. Blog blooming. I wonder how many more seeds will be planted before the end of 2020, probably not another 30, but a fair few, I hope.
As I look around the room, the seasons have changed inside, too; how different to the start of November. The Christmas tree is glowing warmly, ornaments reflecting the light, a soft lighthouse in tree form. As I was decorating the other day, carefully unwrapping some of the fragile ornaments, I found myself thinking back to when I wrapped them in January. How different life felt, not because many of us couldn’t have foreseen the pandemic, but simply because we were living through things without the added pandemic layer. Life in January was tough, winter wasn’t particularly kind last year, and I was struggling with anticipatory grief. In a strange way, I’m grateful for the soft cushion that Lockdown One gave me, and then the lightness that good news brought in the spring and summer. Wrapping those ornaments in January, during a time when we were dealing with cancer and the surreality of wedding planning simultaneously, felt incredibly different to unwrapping them for the pure joy at the end of a pandemic year.
I type these words and let gratitude wash over me.
Finishing a 30 day blogging streak.
Fellow Cheer Peppers.
The good news.
Walks with my sister.
The grace of having travelled away from January’s state of being.
Virtual hugs and words that feel like virtual hugs.
Tea, and sharing it with others where possible, safely. (Weekend coffee shares, too.)
The arrival of December, and the magic of the many lights.
I send wishes that hope makes her presence felt in your life, wherever in the world you are. Some of my favourite words are from a well-known poem by Emily Dickinson, Hope is the thing with feathers:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Somehow, we did it. Nano Poblano 2020 is done. I really am so proud of us all, we are Cheer Peppers in our own right, however the month turned out. Love and solidarity sent out to all the tiny peppers; these thoughtful, wonderfully crafted words weaved many Pepper posts within them – a Pepper hug in poetry form. Breathe in, exhale, we really did it.
Photographs taken in Holkham, Norfolk, September 2020.