Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All Is Bright

I love Christmas lights, whether it's a simple string of white lights framing a front porch  or something on a grander scale...

Image from Vaux-le-Vicomte 

On their last day in Paris, my friend Liane and her mum visted The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, a fabulous baroque 17th century château that was the first grand-scale collaboration between architect Louis Le Vau, landscape architect André le Nôtre and painter-decorator Charles Le Brun--who later went on to build Versailles for Louis XVIII.

Image from Vaux-le-Vicomte

Each year at Christmas time, the chateau gets decked out for Vaux-le-Vicomte Fête Nöel.

Image from Vaux-le-Vicomte

Image from Vaux-le-Vicomte

The gardens sparkle with thousands of lights, which this year twinkle against a snowy backdrop.

Image from Vaux-le-Vicomte

Here in Seattle, where a Wet Christmas is far more likely than a White Christmas, we have our own bright and shining tradition--The Christmas Ships.

Ahoy to the world! (Image from the Seattle Times)

For the last 61 years, a flotilla of ships have sailed to the waterfront communities around Puget Sound--45 in all. Ship-board carolers sing to crowds of people who gather around bonfires on the shores. Christmas Ship parties are a tradition in the waterfront neighborhoods up and down the Sound and are always some of my favorite events of the season.

(Image from the Seattle Times)

The ships sailed to our neighborhood last Saturday, we could see their bright lights and hear the carolers as we walked out our door toward the Madison Park beach. We held hands, said hi to neighbors and sang along, happy that the rain had stopped for a few minutes. When flotilla sailed on to their next stop, we made our way down the street to an annual party and spent time with friends who we just don't see enough of during the year. Maybe not as dramatic as Vaux-le-Vicomte, but our own kind of Northwest magic. 

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