The end of the month marks my one year journey as a published author. I dedicate this humble post to my family and to my friends, both old and new. Thank you for your endless support, unflagging love, and smiling encouragement. You truly are treasure without measure. Your gifts bless me in ways I’ve not words enough to express.
To my new author friends thank you for your kindness and patience given to an awkward newbie. Your knowledge and expertise and the fact that you’ve shared them with me are gifts I hope to one day repay.
Should you need to lean upon me as I have upon you, I offer a shoulder to you, one and all.
I love deep winter with its dark crisp mornings and cold nights. It makes me want to read a good book while a pot of soup simmers on the stove top. It makes me want a hot cup of tea and a slice of cinnamon toast before I turn in early for the night. In winter I live in anticipation of a snowfall armed with the trifecta of protection against the storm — that requisite milk, bread, and eggs. Snowfall at night always brings perfect sleep and come morning, an aching wonder at how anything could be as lovely as two-hundred year old bur oaks when they’re 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 love the shorter days and longer nights of winter. Nothing is so essential to life on earth as the length of daylight. My circadian rhythm is fine-tuned from years of living in the country. From the Latin circa dies, circadian means approximately a day.
In my twenty-four hours, my bedroom window faces east so the first sliver of daylight wakes me. I write at the kitchen table on my laptop with a large window on one side treating me to a full day of ascending sunlight at my back, while the backdoor window gives me the rest as afternoon inches toward evening. At night, there are no urban lights casting artificial light in the starry sky around my home. When I turn off the lights at night, it’s dark out here.
Our bodies react to a day and night of light and dark and there are chemical reasons involved. There’s a reason we wake full of energy in the morning and get sleepy at night. It’s the presence or absence of light. This reaction to life’s external cues is called the Zeitgeber. Zeitgebers help synchronize our rhythms to many things but especially to the light/dark cycle of the earth. This synchronization keeps us healthy and viable. This is why it’s so important to sleep without artificial lights, LED clocks and nightlights included. (I love details and the science of all this speaks to me. Since I could so easily go off point here, I’ll stop and pour myself a cup of coffee.)
🙂 There, my mind is back on track.
What I was getting at is the winter solstice occurs this coming Thursday, December 22nd. This is the day with the least amount of daylight, the start of a new cycle in the wheel of the year. The winter solstice marks the return of the sun and was long considered a time of great symbolism and power. How could it not? It’s certainly a day to feel grateful. Tied to the sun and the growing season as we are, just knowing its full shining face will warm the earth in a few short months is reason to celebrate. We live because of the sun. So important was it to know the sun would return, this event was marked by shafts of morning sunlight crossing through spirals carved into stone, shining down complicated stone tunnels, and centered atop or between precisely placed megaliths like Stone Henge.
I read once how the Romans, celebrating Bacchus their god of merriment, had parties that lasted thirty days and culminated on the winter solstice. What an excellent idea. For many cultures, this is the time to celebrate with family and friends and share the spirit of giving. I plan to do just that a few days later. I have reasons to celebrate.
So I’ll buy my milk bread and eggs and anticipate the snow. I’ll make my pots of soup, read my books and enjoy the silent beauty of the first snowfall. And when I’ve had enough, I’ll try to wait patiently for seed catalogs to come.
I’ll leave you with a sweet poem from my childhood:
The First Snowfall
by James Russell Lowell
The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.
Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl
And the poorest twig on the elm tree
Was ridged inch-deep with pearl.
Being super busy, I won’t be posting on the blog until the middle of next week. Until then, I wish you all happy holidays.