Scarves, gloves and puffas

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Christmas shoppers are enjoying blue sky, bright lights and all-round fabulousness in winter-sunny Edinburgh this afternoon. By ‘eck it is cold though. Two shop assistants told me that the fastest selling items in their stores today have been scarves, gloves and puffa jackets. And I’ve been among those who are glad of all of them.

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Screenshot: Guardian Online

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Pride in The Meadows

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I’m not sure how impressed these lions are with today’s ice – but they’re beautiful. As is the icy mist, lit by the low winter sun.

The 24 bronze lion sculptures have emerged on the Meadows and St Andrew Square in Edinburgh as part of the Born Free (link) wildlife charity’s touring art exhibition that aims to raise awareness and much needed funds for wildlife conservation.

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Hushed

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Winter-Time

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding cake.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Bitter and beautiful

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I’ve been meditating on the juxtaposition of two words in my mind today: bitter and beautiful.

Bitter – because this afternoon’s cold recognises no barrier in five layers of clothing and a felt hat. I am chilled right through to my very bones.

Beautiful – because this is Holyrood, Edinburgh, a place where both natural and humanly-fabricated elements of the city appear to revel in their own illuminated loveliness. A bit like the light in some of Rembrandt’s glorious portraits, one witnesses something of a warm glow, from the inside out. Soul-shining.

It’s an odd and delightful sort of thing, isn’t it, that the two can co-exist in the same moment? – the extreme discomfort of bitter cold, coloured and warmed by awestruck appreciation of the bared beautiful. It’s only a little while since these trees were dressed in all their best finery, peaceably overlooking the delights of garden parties in the great Palace of Holyroodhouse. Today the bitter cold has nipped the last of the leaves at their stems. Fallen and blown, they will now nourish the ground of future’s green glory. Limbs are bared as they face the months of winter, just as our human frame and spirit is bared – and ultimately nourished and grown – by assorted forms of all that we describe and experience as bitter.

All life has deep roots – temporal and eternal. We, with cities and trees, learn that bitter and beautiful work together. And those of us who have learned, and are learning this well, will wait quietly for Spring. Patient, and shining, from the inside out.

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Navillera

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Navillera – to soar or fly, like a butterfly. Now on Netflix, I’ve just seen the last of 12 episodes and don’t know how to speak of how enchanted and moved I have been by the entire series (with subtitles). I just know that I want to share it with some special friends, near and far, each of whom will know – in their different ways, and with their own reasons – why I’m doing so …

Walking home …

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No matter the hour in Edinburgh, wherever you’re walking home from, whatever the season – hot or cold, wind or calm, there’s always something cheering and inspiring to see along the way. Among tonight’s gifts was the sight of a beautiful young fox, sleek and gorgeous, on the Royal Mile – perhaps too shy and certainly too fleet of foot to oblige with a photo.

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