To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Part 7: Post 13: It's on It's Way

Ok, Now campus is decorated for Yule.

Aside from the snow (last week's snow melted, but it's been replaced with two inches of pretty, wet, white stuff), the Mansion's greenery has been updated. The old dead vines in the Great Hall, left over from Samhain, have been replaced by new ivy and also garlands and wreaths made from evergreen sprigs interspersed with red winterberry holly berries. The garlands cross the ceiling, arch over the windows, and snake up the banister up all four flights of stairs. Bowls of nuts and dried fruit and candy, mostly dark chocolate, sit on tables and we are not supposed to eat any of it. I keep looking at the stuff like I used to look at my Christmas presents, waiting. Mistletoe hangs at the archway between the Meditation Hall and the Great Hall. I keep hoping someone will surprise me there, but so far no one has.

And it's not just the greenery. The whole place is covered with a galaxy of tiny white candles in little holders, plus ornamental candles of various shapes, sizes, and colors. I can't wait to see them lit. On the mantelpiece in the Meditation Hall is a Menorah--I guess Chanukah falls around the solstice this year, and there are people on campus who celebrate it. There's also a very long, tall, pale green candle by itself on the mantel in the Great Hall, in obvious pride of place.

And there is a tree. Surprisingly, it is artificial, but it looks good, all decorated with antique-looking ornaments in gold and silver, red and white. And somebody has scented the place with pine oil, so it smells right. The rest of the greenery is quite real.

Where did it all come from? And who did it? All of this sprang up overnight yesterday. I've asked, and it seems that groundskeepers and janitors who aren't yearlings do all the work in secret. It will be my turn next year, I suppose. Charlie found the evergreen clippings, he has a deal with some of the Christmas tree places in the area (the man has a talent for finding useful friends, though I can't imagine him cultivating a friendship in order to use it. I think, rather, that despite his grumbling and growling he has a lot of friends, and they are all useful to each other). He did not, however, make the garlands. I'd assumed he did, because things that grow are so much his specialty, but no, he didn't. He didn't do the Samhain decorations, either, except for, again, sourcing material.

Turns out, arranging flowers and greens and vines is Karen's job. I'd known she taught Zen flower arrangement, but apparently she does Western-style arrangement, too. I still don't know her very well, because, except in class, she's very shy--it's strange to think of her directing all of this, organizing a dozen or so people in secret and teaching them to make all this beauty silently, while we slept.

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