I love deep winter with its dark crisp mornings and icy star-filled nights. To some, winter means heading south to warmer climes. But that’s not for me, I’m a Midwest girl. I live in anticipation of snowfall armed with the trifecta of protection against the storm – that requisite milk, bread, and eggs.
When I was a girl, winter meant snowball fights, tobogganing, and school closed for snow days. As a teen it meant snowmobiling and skiing. Nowadays winter means slipping into the baggy comfortable clothes and thick floppy socks you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing outside the house. Winter means pots of soup simmering on the stove. It's a time for assembling jigsaw puzzles on the kitchen table with my husband and anyone who stops for a visit.
Snowfall at night always summons that perfect sleep. Come morning, I'm often filled with an aching wonder at how anything could be as lovely as two-hundred year old bur oaks surrounded by an undisturbed blanketing of snow. There are as many shades of blue to snow as there are shades of green in the spring. The artist in me can’t wait.
I just love the shorter days and longer nights of winter. I'm an early riser whose circadian rhythm is fine-tuned from years of living in the country. Since the clocks turned back an hour, I feel like I've actually gained more time in my day. What writer doesn't like that? My bedroom window faces east so my days begin when the first sliver of daylight wakes me. I write on my laptop at the kitchen table where a large window treats me to a half day of ascending sunlight at my back. The living room bay window and backdoor window give me the rest as afternoon inches toward evening. My dogs follow these warm winter sunbeams on the floor like canine sundials. At night, no urban lights disturb the starry sky around my home. When I turn off the lights at night, it’s dark out here.
Soon we'll face that shortest day of the year with the least amount of daylight -- the winter solstice. The very next day, a new cycle begins in the wheel of the year. Each day gets a little longer until the equinox and shortly after, the summer solstice gives us the longest day of the year. Then we do it all over again. It was so important to know when days would lengthen again, this celestial event was observed and revered around the world, and ways to measure it cut or placed in stone. Complicated stone tunnels
and specifically placed boulders of the like found in Stone Henge and Newgrange became prehistoric astronomical observatories to help keep track. Shafts of solstice sunlight beamed down
passages and rose between precisely placed
megaliths with perfect timing. Tied to the sun
and the growing season as we are, just knowing the sun's full shining face
will warm the earth again is reason to celebrate. The solstice was long considered a time of great symbolism and divine power. How
could it not be when it's as regular as clockwork?
The solstice is certainly a day to feel grateful.
live because of the sun. For many cultures, this is the time to celebrate with family and friends and share the spirit of giving. I once read how the Romans celebrated Saturnalia, the festival of light, with parties that lasted thirty days and culminated on the winter solstice. What an excellent idea! I too have reasons to rejoice. This year my husband and I are doing something different for the winter solstice – a twelve-hour drumming event. My drumming friends and family will join us either by stopping by for a time, or drumming the entire twelve hours with us non-stop. If that doesn’t bring the sun back, I don’t know what will. ;)
But until the sun's return and the first greening of spring, I’ll enjoy the silent beauty of the first snowfall and make my pots of soup, work my puzzles, and watch my dogs sprawl in the sunbeams on the floor. By the time I’ve surely had enough of winter, the seed catalogs will come in the mail and herald the thaw. Timing is everything.
Do you have any special solstice plans?
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multi-published, award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and
learning interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her
family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in
the rolling glacial hills of the upper mid-west.
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