Traditional pursuits no. 41 ...
This is the newly-created Advent wreath in the small church of Holy Trinity, Dunoon, in the Episcopal Diocese of Argyll and The Isles. Behind it lies the story of two crazed women, no dogs this year, a pair of busted secateurs and a storm.
Storm first. The weather this afternoon has been totally unsuitable for any outdoor activities as the promised rain and gales arrived more or less on time to pummel the church during the lunchtime rehearsal for an Advent Evensong. However, as time right now is on a fairly tight budget, there was greenery to be collected and arranged ...
And so my pal and I set off, armed with said busted secateurs and a couple of black bin bags, to slither about in a wet wood seeking out the most delectable trailing fronds of trees, the most promising fuzzy bits from others. We knew exactly what we wanted and where to find it. Our hands froze - yes, it's milder at 12ºc but it was very wet - and our legs got wetter and wetter. We ended our search with the berries specially designed by a benevolent deity to grace a suitably-coloured group of candles ...*
And then it was back to the church, a building of some beauty but one which miraculously retains the chill from the past week and was in fact several degrees colder than the thrashing air outside. Florist's foam was found (love the alliteration) and soaked (more cold water) before being arranged on the stand which grows more rusty with every passing year (I remember when it was new ...). The dangling fronds, the fuzzy fillers, all were placed and topped with the miraculous berries.
Were we done? Were we heck. We swept the floor. We dumped the debris down the hill outside. We dried the floor - it was as wet as if we'd washed it. And then, only then, we allowed ourselves a few minutes of contemplation and photographs. This is it. It'll be here till Epiphany, by which time the berries will be covered in drips of wax and at least one purple candle will have had to be replaced lest it set the whole caboodle of fine. And lo, in the box of candles there is indeed a spare - though it is provided, I suspect, for those who do not use the pink candle.
And for your better understanding of that*, Best Beloved, I must refer you once more to The Great Advent Wreath Controversy.