Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saying Farewell to 2011

It's one minute past midnight here and my little family is tucked up asleep while I try to write on through the night. (I need to finish writing a book and sometimes the cruel hours are the best hours to do it.) It has been a sublime night here; warm and dense with the scent of jasmine and lamb chops being cooked on barbecues. The sky stayed pink for the longest time and the sight of it glowing rose was enough to make people stop jogging and take photos on their iPhones. It was such an exquisite evening that I took the dogs for a long walk, firstly through the village and then through the forest behind it. I met a handful of other villagers who were also walking their dogs in the quiet of the evening, and we chatted about how lovely the lilacs were, and how pretty all the hydrangeas looked after the deluge of rain.  I peered (as I always do) over the picket fences, admiring the planting schemes of the cottage gardens and wondering if ours would ever look as beautiful. It was a night of reflection, admiration, and quiet appreciation.

This year has been a terrible year for many people. Including us. In fact, some journalists are calling it a cataclysmic year, and for once I wouldn't say they're sensationalising their copy. It has been a truly appalling twelve months. Floods, storms, global economic woes, unexpected job losses, strange illnesses, career setbacks, relationship breakdowns, a plummeting real estate market and many other extraordinarily awful things have tested our collective spirit this year. Apparently, December 2012 is going to be a fairly apocalyptic few weeks, if you believe the "2012 Phenomenon", but quite frankly I don't know how things can get much worse. I think the world has hit rock-bottom, don't you?

The thing is, bad times never last, and this year – thank goodness – is on its last wobbly legs. It doesn't have much strength left and soon we'll be entering a fresh new era. 2011 will seem like a summer thunderstorm that's come and gone in a flash of lightning. And when it finally passes, the air will feel calmer and clearer – as it always does when a thunderstorm moves through. It's like a cleansing process that has to happen as part of the larger cycle of life. As Woody Allen once said, the rain helps wash away the dusty memories from the sidewalk of life...

So if you've had an atrocious year and are still feeling the pain of it, hang in there, as the new year is almost here. Take your loved ones, or your dog, and go for a walk in the pink light of twilight. Look at a garden, or a sunset, chat to a neighbour, or arrange to meet a friend in the park. Talk about happy things. Remember the good parts of your life. Then go home and hug your kids, or your partner. Pour yourself a Christmas drink. Pull a cracker. Open a box of chocolates. And sing a carol. Out loud.

Winston Churchill once said, "If you're going through Hell, keep going". It's a good philosophy.

Let's all look forward to 2012.


  1. Discovered you a few days ago. Have read all your posts.

    Quite good for the spirit.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  2. Dear Janelle, Thank you so much for your lovely blog, it has been a great source of inspiration and a little escape from the hum drum of every day life! Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy festive season (and a wonderful 2012)!.

  3. Amen to that Sista! Never have I lurched toward the Festive Season with so little sparkle. I feel like I'm doing a big gig solo without my regular back-up singers. Anyhoo, your beautiful words have resonated loudly here in the gorgeous Adelaide Hills, bless you. I have so much to be thankful for, & I'm so grateful you came out from behind the mist of the Dandenongs Janelle & we connected. Here's to all the good things a fresh New Year can bring. Warmest Christmas greetings to you, Princes Boy & puppy.
    Millie, MOTH & Lulu xx

  4. Dear Tara, Thank you for your kind note. I think your blog is lovely, too. (Garden lovers are always gorgeous people!) And I loved your lists on your Blogger Profile - particularly "appreciating the sublime" and "collecting words". And Travels with Charley is one of my favourite books. I shall have to look out for The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, The Education of a Gardener, and the books you've written. (I believe Santa is bringing Gertrude Jekyll and the Country House Garden for Christmas.)
    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas. I shall look forward to reading more gardening wisdom from you in 2012.
    Janelle McCulloch

  5. Dear Anonymous, Thank you for your lovely note. So nice to hear from readers. If it were not for these comments, I would have stopped with this blog a fortnight after I started! I'm so pleased it inspires you. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas. Janelle

  6. Dear Millie, Thank you for your generous words. You are so beautiful - as always. I do hope you received your little Christmas gift in the post. Lots of gardening pix to mull over and be inspired by. I expect to see The Hedge looking like Chateau Villandry after MOTH's done! Hope you have a fun-filled Christmas with the family. You deserve it. Hugs from us here in the Olinda hills. Janelle McCulloch

  7. Hand up for the atrocious year. My worst ever. But there are so many blessing from it now making their appearance.... I can stand back and be grateful for everything... even the bad bits now. You write so beautifully. Adding you to my daily bloggy roll. And you have the best readers... Tara, Mills! Love them too! A-M xx

  8. You are right this has been a disastrous year. I didn't think it could get worse after the floods, earthquakes and tsunamis but it did and I lost my beautiful Top. But the children and the grandchildren are still here and tonight they are all going to get a big hug as we meet altogether for the first (and a happier) time in 8 months.
    Thank you for reminding me I do have something to look forward to.
    Have a wonderful Christmas.

  9. I ,too, am happy to be turning the page on 2011, for many of the reasons that you mentioned. I'm hoping that 2012 will be a quieter, less eventful year. I am trying to find the peaceful moments in my garden, the creation of my semi renovated home and in celebrating all that I love about Christmas - family and friends, good food, togetherness.
    Your blog is just lovely, and I have so enjoyed reading all of your posts. Wishing your family a wonderful Christmas and a happy year in 2012.

  10. Dear A-M, Julienne and Heidi,
    Thanks for your kind notes, and for being so supportive of The Library. I've been reading each of your blogs and have really enjoyed all the posts. It's so lovely to make contact with other kindred spirits, especially those who love gardens, architecture and creating a home with little money but lots of love.
    Thanks again for your wonderful comments.
    All the very best to you and your families,
    Janelle McCulloch


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