Happy Solstice! Now the sun dips to its lowest position in the sky, and we prepare for the year’s shortest day and longest night. This end of the season always saddens me – even more than autumn, with its changing light and outrageously colored foliage; now plants die back, animals retreat into their dens to hibernate, and weather can be cold, cloudy, and forbidding for all but the most intrepid to spend time outside. I always think of loved ones who are gone, and this year miss my mother most acutely. Our garden, with its few surviving shrubs covered by frost cloths, resembles a ghost town.
Gone are the bright blues, yellows, and reds of flowers and food crops. And yet, also moving is the sere beauty of winter’s subtle browns and mossy greens, the spare silhouettes of branches emptied of leaves. In hibernation, animals shore up energy and strength to grow and thrive in the coming year, and so do plants. This is a time when both fauna and flora are starting over, as B. and I prune back and cover, protecting fragile limbs from frost’s bite.
And, due undoubtedly to climate change’s unreasonable warmth late into the season, what new beginnings: arugula! artichokes! weeds and cover crops. The myceleum and fruiting bodies of mushrooms pop up after a welcomed rain. Everywhere in the garden I imagine my mother’s loving hand, cultivating a flower or tying back stems. Soon, spring’s fertility will burst from the garden anew.
Perhaps it’s good to take a lesson from the turning of the earth, and pause for a time to turn inward, recoup strength, and dream about the coming year. Please share some of your favorite traditions for Yule, as we begin to celebrate the dark and its slow turn back into the light!