Solstice

“And so the Shortest Day came and the year died

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,

To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;

They hung their homes with evergreen;

They burned beseeching fires all night long

To keep the year alive.

And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake

They shouted, reveling.

Through all the frosty ages you can hear them

Echoing behind us – listen!

All the long echoes, sing the same delight,

This Shortest Day,

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:

They carol, feast, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,

And hope for peace.

And now so do we, here, now.

This year and every year.”

 

Susan Cooper

 

It’s the Winter Solstice, once again. Slowly but surely the light will come back now, as we round the year and tilt toward summer again.  But first, winter is upon us (though it remains relatively warm here, and aggravatingly snow-free). It felt fitting to spend the day baking cookies and enjoying each other’s company. In the late afternoon I took my usual walk around the pastures and found my center among the natural world.  This is my favorite time of year for walking in the woods and bringing treats to the sheep. Though low, the stream is full of tiny minnows. The dried-up weeds and vines and fallen trees become like hedgerows, teeming with birds. You’d be forgiven for thinking there was a huge animal crashing about out there, the birds are so plentiful and noisy. It’s hard to get pictures of them; I haven’t got a zoom lens and they fly off in huge clouds of winds and chirping if I get too close.

I can see now that the small, wild holly trees are thriving, and I’m hoping I can transplant them at some point to a better location. I also found the remains of a skunk in the back pasture, who I assume was killed by one of the many hawks we see out there every day. We’d been smelling the pervasive scent rather strongly back in October, but never found the source.

After dinner the girls and I bundled into the car and we set off for our yearly viewing of Christmas lights. It seemed fitting on the night of the Solstice to celebrate the colorful lights people have on their homes.

Happy Solstice, all. May your days be long and bright, and your nights warm and cheerful.

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Gearing Up For Christmas

We are finally starting to really feel some of the holiday spirit we’ve been needing. I won’t give all the credit to gluhwein and egg nog, but it certainly hasn’t hurt!

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Everyone loves the tree!  It feels magical at night with the tree lights and the heady scent of fresh pine. If only we’d get some snow, to complete the effect.

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We’ve only just begun our cookie baking in earnest, and I’m definitely feeling the crunch. We’ve managed to get some pfeffernusse done today and I’m working on linzer cookies next. Tomorrow I’ll put the kids to work making the iced cookies.

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Oona’s been working on her Christmas gift knitting in between devouring chapters of Harry Potter.  She’s completely obsessed right now, and I couldn’t be happier. I told Paul that since she was too young to really appreciate Harry Potter World when we went to Universal Studios that we’ll have to taker her again!

Tonight we are watching It’s A Wonderful Life while I frantically work on more cookies, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Pig Building

You’ll have to bear with the pictures here – they were taken through the window with my phone, because every time I try to capture this outside with my camera, they stop.

Lately the pigs have taken to nest building in the side yard. They’ve been accumulating old feed bags, sticks, hay, and leaves and creating a massive pile that they burrow into.

Keep in mind that these guys have an actual shelter to sleep in, and to stay out of the weather.

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Here they are shouting and scratching around.

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Churchill burrowing.

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And now you can’t even see him under there.

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Meanwhile Charlie’s working on bringing another load of hay and leaves.

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Cracks me up seeing them carrying these piles in their mouths.

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Charlie’s turn to burrow.  Eventually he went for more hay and then lost interest for awhile.

Im half tempted to move their nest into their shelter so they’ll stay in there, but I also wonder if that will just make them mad.