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Today is Winter Solstice, which makes tonight the longest night of the year.
This year the Winter Solstice is especially special because on this very day there is a “great conjunction” of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the sky. Tthe two planets will almost touch in the sky. Both planets will be at 0 degrees Aquarius from 20 through 24 December. Larry and I plan to go out tonight to see this.
On Saturday night I watched a new holiday movie on the Hallmark Channel.
Larry and I have watched a lot of Hallmark holiday movies over the years, but this one was different in a way that really related to what we are doing here with Lifely.
Love, Lights, Hanukkah is the story of an adopted Christian woman whose loses her adoptive mother and then meets her birth mother, who is Jewish. The theme of the movie is about the problems and rewards of this woman integrating into her new family, who has a completely different culture.
Many holidays are celebrated at this time of year—each culture, it seems has it’s own traditional celebrations.
But there is one day that I believe can be celebrated by everyone, regardless of religion, race, creed, ancestry, sexual preference, or any other difference we may have.
And that is Winter Solstice.
Yesterday when I walked in the door at Carter & Co and saw the sprouting paperwhite bulbs pushing out to become flowers, I was reminded it is time to plant my paper white bulbs.
This is something I have been doing for so many years, I’ve forgotten when I started or why.
But I just love watching the paperwhite bulbs grow and present their flowers, even in the cold days of winter. It reminds me that no matter how cold and bare the world may seem at this moment, life is continuing on and new growth is on its way.
Today is the Autumn Equinox, which means we are exactly half way between the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice.
Today is Spring Equinox, the halfway point between Summer Solstic and Winter Solstice.
This year the Spring Equinox falls on 19 March. This is earlier than it has been in more than 100 years. If you want to read more about this, see THE OLD FARMER’S ALMANAC: First Day of Spirng 2020.
The Spring Equinox is the time of year when winter is over but summer hasn’t started, so there is an element of balance between to opposites. For this reason, Larry and I once got married on a Spring Equinox because of this aspect of balance.
This year the Spring Equinox is strange.
Last Saturday, after going to the farmer’s market, Larry and I were walking by Trader Joe’s and there was a big display of cut daffodil buds—the season’s first. Only $1.49 for 10 stems, with a nudge on the sign that said, “At this price, there’s no reason not to buy 3 bunches (or more)!
Now here in Northern California, sunny yellow daffodils are one of the first signs of spring. Since I’ve lived here all my life (except for 15 years in Florida), daffodils are deeply ingrained in me. Trader Joe’s knows daffodils are loved here, so when I see the daffodils at Trader Joe’s, they have to come home with me.
We followed the advice of the sign and bought three bunches so we could have a generous display and brought them home. But I was already starting to fade from an approaching intestinal flu that hit that night, so I went to bed.
The next day I suddenly remembered the daffodils. Larry by now was beside me in bed with the same flu. “Where are the daffodils?” I asked. “Did you put them in water?”
Today is the first day of Winter Solstice.
I say “the first day” because Winter Solstice is the longest night and the shortest day of the year, and the length of day is within a minute from day to day for a period of days. So I celebrate Winter Solstice for ten days instead of one.
For some years now, I take those Winter Solstice days off from my work and enjoy the depths of winter.
For me, that means reveling in the dark and cold while at the same time carrying forward the light through the time of darkness, as has been the purpose of Winter Solstice for I don’t know how long. The famous Yule log originally was a log large enough to burn all through the longest night, to carry the light of the sun through to the new year.
Larry and I are still sleeping under the stars. We just love it. Waking up outdoors reconnects us every morning to the natural world and every day we see something different.
One morning we saw a hot air balloon floating overhead, riding on the wind.
Yesterday a whole flock of birds flew overhead, When I became aware they were flying directly south, I realized that they were migrating south for the winter. Right over my house!
Even though the days are still warm, life is preparing for the winter to come.
I think Jack-o-lanterns are my favorite of all seasonal symbols. Today they are the quintessential Halloween icon, yet the first jack-o-lanterns weren’t carved in pumpkins at all–they were made from turnips.
Jack-o-lanterns originated many centuries ago in Europe. The Celtic people there had a seasonal celebration called Samhain. The celebration honored death because it was the season of death–all around them, leaves were falling, grasses were drying out, and animals that could not be overwintered because of lack of food and shelter were slaughtered to be eaten over the barren winter. As all the life energies of the earth go underground to prepare for new growth the next spring, it was natural to acknowledge the end of the cycle of life for the year, get ready for the long, cold, lifeless winter ahead.
This morning when I got in the car Larry was eating an apple while waiting for me. The burst of fragrance from the apple reminded me of this experience I wrote about some years ago.
Last week, while on our trip to Cologne, Germany, my husband Larry and I stopped at a “bio” store (where they sell organic food and other natural products) to buy some bottles of water. [All the water, by the way, was natural spring water bottled in glass. There is no beverage, to me, that matches very cold spring water in a very cold glass bottle. Plastic bottles just don’t hold the chill in the same way.|
As we were looking for the bottled water, we happed to walk down a produce aisle and immediately smelled the sweet fragrance of äpfels (I am calling these apples by their German name because they were unlike any apples so-called in English that I have ever experienced).
Today is Summer Solstice. It’s the longest day of the year and the shortest night. The following day daylight becomes less and less until we reach the Winter Solstice in December. [See Lifely: Sunshine Through the Year]
About ten years ago, I was talking with some friends about green living and got all excited that Summer Solstice was coming up that Sunday. One of them said, “I’m not very interested in Summer Solstice. What does it have to do with living green?”
Good question. When I first became interested in “living in harmony with Nature” the very first thing I explored was the concept of natural time.
I “accidentally” found this very cool website about ten years ago and it’s one of my favorites.
Gaisma.com has very comprehensive data about the amount of sunshine for every place in the world. “Gaisma” is a Latvian word, meaning “light”.
Why would you want to know this? For gardening, for calculating potential solar energy, but for me, it very clearly shows the increase and decrease of day length (making it easy to find the longest days and longest nights), in beautiful graphs.