Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Celebrating the Winter Solstice

My banana tree finally succumbed to the cold weather. Until a couple days ago it held out, still standing tall, large dark leaves stretching skyward, as if in prayer. Overnight the leaves grew limp and drooped down. Now it looks forlorn, but I know, come spring, new leaves will push through and unravel where the old ones have died off.

The rest of the garden lies dormant now too and the days are so short. I got caught walking the dog along a forest trail yesterday, in the dark. It seemed the daylight disappeared suddenly. Light enough to see the trail one minute, pitch dark the next. Thank goodness for all the Christmas lights at this time of year to brighten the long nights. And this week's full moon in the clear, cold skies ~ spectacular!

The shortest day of the year is fast approaching and then, thank goodness, the days will gradually start to grow longer again. In just weeks, in this part of the world, the magic will begin. The crocuses will stir, under the soil, and soon their heads will poke through the earth, followed by daffodils and other early spring flowers. The natural world has needed these long nights and cold days to rest, to rejuvenate, before we are once again blessed with spring, which happens so gradually we hardly notice until it is upon us. Suddenly the cherry blossoms burst into bloom, shiny new leaves will flutter in the breeze and we sigh with relief, enjoying longer daylight hours again.

To mark the solstice one year a group of us hiked out to Quarry Rock to watch the sunrise. Another group did the same thing and then sang songs that had to do with sunshine... Here Comes The Sun, Sunshine on my Shoulders, Morning Has Broken etc. Very fitting, I thought.

In some quiet but significant way, I'll mark the occassion again this year. To me the Solstice feels more significant than Christmas, or birthdays. Without these short days/long nights, we wouldn't appreciate the next season, the bountiful, lush, light one. How grateful I am for that.