There are two times each year that the earth "stands still" on its axis... but I have to confess that I barely notice the summer equinox. Late June days are spent in the garden--or playing volleyball in the sand, or listening to the crack of a turned length of maple or ash connecting with a leather-covered orb--and they seem to flow warmly into the heat of July without much notice.
The winter solstice, however, always catches my attention. It seems to be a time for introspection... for noticing the little details, whether they are of spiny desert plants tucked into a ledge, or the amount of care put into holiday treats, hospitality and decoration.
While we bundle up, Mother Nature lays bare her earth and takes down her leafy growing-season decor. In winter, we can often see patterns that we might otherwise miss, for the distraction of vibrantly blooming summer plants.
We think about the coming year, and mentally lay some new paths for ourselves, and vow again to keep things neat and orderly.
We sit for a while at the window and look out, and then turn our gaze inward again... and appreciate the rich textures, and colors, that the things and people with which we surround ourselves add to our experiences.
And we appreciate, too, even the smallest signs of fuzzy warmth... and the promise of new growth, and new opportunities to keep up our powers of observation in the rest of the new year. We vow not to let this next calendar flip so fast that it blurs the details of our life...
Happy winter solstice! And happy holidays--of all kinds and creeds--to all!
All photos in this post taken at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, December 2008.