Sunday, December 21

Winter Sun-Standing (Solstice) 2008

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.


Ewa said...

Since the begining of human civilization, even back to Egypt, people were celebrating winter solstice in many different ways - sometimes, we would call it 'very barbarian' today.
It is a special time in the year.
Merry Christmas,

joey said...

Beautifully written, Kim. This is my favorite day! With warm thoughts until spring, Happy Holidays! (Hugs)

tina said...

Very nice. I could look at all those textures all day even without it being solstice. Love the winter bones of the gardens.

growingagardenindavis said...

This is one of my favorite days of the year~even though I can't tell yet I love knowing the days are getting longer again. You've written a lovely, thoughtful summation about a special day. Happy holidays Kim!

Gail said...


Very well said, you always do write so beautifully! Our culture could surely use an infusion of introspection and appreciation of what we have; what better time then now, when the year's end is near.

Happy Winter Solstice, Kim and the happiest of holiday weeks to you!


Shirley said...

Hi again Kim :-)

Lovely images all round!

I come bearing you a Christmas gift - the name for the sedum in my posting your asked about. This was tricky but hey I like a challenge ;-) I used a forum and I have mailed a few people on this including Ray Stephenson of the Sedum Society here in the UK. As my plant is more grey/red in colour in the summer months Ray has suggested that it is Sedum spathulifolium var purpureum. Looking at the photo he mailed me I would agree :-D

Wishing you and yours Happy Holidays and all the best for 2009 :-D

Sylvana said...

A Sublime Solstice to you!

Love your picts and descripts.

Hope you have a fabulous new year!

Unknown said...

Ewa, their actions may be considered "very barbarian" today, but I like the idea that winter solstice was celebrated even back then. The continuity fits somehow, and is comforting. :)

Joey, mine, too! I listen to an Over the Rhine CD (called "The Darkest Night of the Year") of Christmas carols every Winter Solstice evening... and think about how imperceptably the days are lengthening... (((Hugs back.)))

Tina, I know, right? I look at those photos (most of which are taken at the Western Reserve Herb Society Herb Garden) and think, "THIS! This is why people like formal gardens! Why don't I have more of these lovely winter garden bones in my own?" lol.

Leslie, I do love the knowledge that the days are getting longer again, too... sometimes I pretend that I can tell that we have more daylight, even. :)

Gail, good point! An infusion of introspection and appreciation would probably be good for all of us. I feel kind of lucky to have such strong ties to the earth that this time of the year triggers that in me...

Shirl, THANK YOU! You know, I was actually going to guess s. spath., because it looks a little bit like my 'Cape Blanco,' but with bigger "leaves" and different coloration. But then I figured it wouldn't be right, given the huge number of sedums that are available!

Happy Holidays to you and yours, too. :)

Sylvana, a sublime solstice indeed! And I hope that you and yours in Wisconsin have a fabulous New Year, and not too much damage from this northern storm... *crossing my fingers*

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Kim, this is such a thoughtful post. Thank you and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

EAL said...

Great post! To me it seems winter came a bit early this year, but I have been enjoying looking at the white blanket that's now covering everything.

Anonymous said...

Kim: This is a nice reminder of a beautiful day even though it was filled with snow here. Now we have a winter covering to keep things warm and the icicles are hanging from the rafters. The happiest of holidays to you!

Annie in Austin said...

With ground unfrozen in spite of frequent dips below the frost mark and a large number of broadleaved evergreens available, winter in Austin is less reflective than in Ohio. Here trees and shrubs can be planted and seeds sown for cold-hardy flowers and vegetables. But we're still affected by darkness and we need to know the days will lengthen.

Happy whatever you celebrate, Kim!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Anonymous said...

Happy Solstice to you too! I like to think of it as the official start of summer. I feel so much better now that the days are lengthening again. Merry Merry!

IBOY said...

Kim... you know, I always wanted to do like the druids, and build a big bonfire on the eve of the winter solstice. Well, I never remember to get stuff ready for it in the fall, and it was minus 16, with a minus thirty-five wind chill here last night. The gas fireplace was nice, though. :o)

Cosmo said...

Beautiful post, Kim. I wasn't very introspective this year, I'm afraid--I've high-tailed it to Arizona, where the days are longer and the roses are still in bloom--I spent the solstice on the golf course. But I'll be introspective when I get back in January (best be, or the garden will be a mess come Spring . . . ) Happy Holidays to you--I hope you're safe and warm. C.

lisa said...

I definately agree that the winter "bones" are more accentuated in the formal garden setting, but I know that my personal gardening "style" doesn't work that way. Ah well, I'm comfortable in my own weeds. ;-) Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!!

Angela @ Cottage Magpie said...

Beautiful. And can I just say, SPRING IS COMING! :-) Whew! Okay, maybe not for awhile, but officially, now it is. I can't wait. :-)

Anyway, I just stopped by to say Merry Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful holiday!
~Angela :-)

Crafty Green Poet said...

that's a lovely illustrated tour, i also find the winter solstice a time for introspection

Unknown said...

Greenbow Lisa, thank you... same to you and yours!

EAL, it does feel that way, doesn't it? I thought maybe it was just me, because I'm so far behind with all of my projects that I would like to have a few more weeks to do things in the yard. :)

Layanee, we had a blanket of white here, too! No longer, though... after today's rain, we're back to the usual brown-and-grey of Cleveland winters.

Annie in Austin, happy whatever you celebrate, too! You're right, even in warmer climes it is nice to know that the days are getting longer, and we have more chances to see the sun... :)

blithewold kris, I like the way you think--Happy Start of Summer to you, too! lol.

Don/IBOY, I have actually always wanted to do that, too... but they frown on big bonfires here in the city, sadly. Happy Holidays... :)

Cosmo, I can't be introspective on the golf course... lol... I'm too busy cursing at the ball! (And the clubs, and sometimes the sand traps... golf is just not my game.) Happy Holidays to you in sunny Arizona!

Lisa, I'm with you--I just don't work that way, either. I'm thinking, though, that it might be fun to have one or two random, abstract lines of lavender or something, running through my mess? Hmm. Merry Christmas!

Angela/Cottage Magpie, you're right--spring is coming! Maybe not for a while, but... it's now a little bit closer, right? :) Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to you, too!

Crafty Green Poet, thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. :)

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