“On the first day of winter,
the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself.
Snow knows no other recourse except
this falling, this sudden letting go
over the small gnomed bushes, all the emptying trees.
Snow puts beauty back into the withered and malnourished,
into the death-wish of nature and the deliberate way
winter insists on nothing less than deference.
waiting all its life, snow says, “Let me cover you.”
– Laura Lush, The First Day of Winter
On the first day of the winter solstice we are celebrating a new season and so much more. According to many reports the world was to end this day. Of course if you are reading this, then those reports were wrong. I was of the belief that the Mayans did not predict the end of the world, but a change in the world for the better. A kind of spiritual awakening. Let’s hope that is true. And what better time to celebrate a new beginning than at the solstice.
I have been connecting with the elements of Feng Shui recently. I find Feng Shui fascinating, and hope to incorporate these elements in some posts this winter. The winter solstice, according to Feng Shui, is a time when we are entering the most yin time of year. It is a time to become quiet and reflective with more meditation, prayer, and listening to your inner voice or intuition. Yin emphasizes a space for this reflection that is small, quiet, naturally lit and organized with plants and art work.
This yin time fits with my winter mantra: I plan to explore my inner self more this winter and take stock of habits and changes that need to be made both in myself and my environment.
But it is equally important to balance all this reflection with play. So make sure you get out and play this winter…..This time of year lends itself to some unique playful activities. Do you ski, snowshoe, make snowmen or snow angels, have a snowball fight? Do you take nature walks as the snow falls silently? It is important to laugh, be silly, fire up your imagination and escape into play if you want to continue to nourish your soul.
“Every year at just this time,
In cold and dark December,
Families around the world
All gather to remember,
With presents and with parties,
With feasting and with fun,
Customs and traditions
for people old and young.”
– Helen H. Moore
Bloggers and gardeners in the northern hemisphere are celebrating the winter solstice:
The United States
Holley@Roses and Other Gardening Dreams is celebrating the Little Black Dress in her garden, the evergreen. In winter evergreens of every kind dress up the garden with elegance especially when they have a coat of snow.
Beth@PlantPostings is enjoying the holly and the persistent ivy in her garden as she decorates and sings carols for the season. What a lovely way to celebrate the season then to take part of the garden and use it for special decorations.
A wonderful celebration of the seasons is with lights. Karin@Southern Meadows takes us on a grand tour of The Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I love light shows and this is one spectacular show. What’s even more spectacular about this holiday light show is it has ‘gone green’ by using more than 1 million energy-efficient LED lights.
Susan@Life-Change-Compost is contributing for the first time in Seasonal Celebrations. Her tribute to her cousin Jenny and dedication of her garden this solstice is truly moving. Wishing Susan a wonderful garden with the spirit of Jenny bringing her a lovely spring.
I am pleased to have Loredana@Blogging Away join us as she visits NYC at Christmas to show us the gorgeous decorations and sights. I have visited NYC at Christmas and it is a feast for the eyes and stomach. I haven’t visited in a number of years so thanks for bringing it back to me Loredana.
Another newcomer is Tammy@Casa Mariposa who delights us with her words about her winter garden. Her wisdom of winter in her garden is beautiful articulated:
My garden lies like the bleached bones of a whale, exposed and naked, stark branches and limbs jutting at odd angles against a pewter sky. But my garden doesn’t care and neither do I.
I can just visualize this garden in my own winter garden on a dry day. I love the picture she is painting of her garden as it is ready for slumber.
Flâneur Gardener who gardens in Copenhagen and surrounding area is also celebrating this season of winter white with lights. I was delighted to learn about a Scandinavian tradition of snow lanterns. As this gardener says:
The Americans might have high-jacked the Jack-o-lantern, but here in Scandinavia we still have our snow lanterns. They are not tied to a specific festival of any kind; merely something you build in the midst of winter to bring some light into the darkness.
I plan to build some snow lanterns when we get some snow again here in NY. What a fabulous way to lighten up the dark winter.
Cathy@Words and Herbs is celebrating the season in Bavaria. The sights are amazing, and if I was there the smells would be overwhelmingly wonderful too. The many holidays or Saints’ feasts and the special traditions around these feasts leading up to the solstice are amazing. I would love to visit Bavaria for the solstice and the Christmas holiday to see the snowy woodland hills and villages. It is what I imagine an old fashioned Christmas should be.
B-A-G@Experiments With Plants finishes observing the London Plane Tree for our celebration. This wonderful series has taken us through all 4 seasons with these precious trees. B-A-G has suggested I plant a Plane Tree in my garden as I replace my soon to be infected ash trees. I had not thought of it, but the American Plane Tree is the Sycamore which is a native tree here in NY. I think I will consider it as I have fallen in love with the Plane Trees across the pond.
Up in Canada, Susan@As Long As You Have A Garden shared a lovely memoir of the Carol Service. This is also Susan’s first time contributing. She tells of a lovely Christmas when her family walked to church:
The fields and hedgerows were overlayed by snow and the trees glowed with frost. The sky was a star speckled cloak of deepest indigo.
She goes on the describe the service with boys watching the candles on the trees to avoid a fire, and how each person got up to read the lessons each followed by a carol her favorite being, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. I was fascinated by her story as I had never heard of this type of Christmas service. Certainly sounds like a peaceful place for Christmas.
Our friends in the southern hemisphere are also celebrating this solstice, but theirs is quite a bit hotter as summer blows in:
Diana@Elephants Eye is counting down Christmas with a beautiful Advent Wreath. Diana’s wreath uses grey foliage from her garden:
Olive sprigs for peace. Dusty Miller for structure. Santolina to fill in. A few wild jasmine flowers Jasminum annulare for perfume.
This is one of the most beautiful Advent wreaths I have ever seen, and I love the meanings of the flowers she used.
And Christine@The Gardening Blog is celebrating her summer season with an incredible burst of blooms right outside her door. Her roses are especially lovely, and a wonderful way to celebrate her newly arrived season. Oh to have roses right now would be divine. Thanks Christine for bringing these blooms into my winter.
Christine’s blogmate Barbie@The Gardening Blog is also celebrating the season. The favorite part of her garden that gives her the greatest pleasure is her Grass Feature:
I celebrate this part of my garden this summer. Summer is a time for giving back to yourself. All the months of hard work and dedicating your time to others should be celebrated in summer, when the weather is warm and the sun is out.
Please visit all these wonderful bloggers and their posts. I am honored that they participated and shared their beautiful stories.
As this special season of peace and hope opens up before us, I hope you are enjoying the solstice and all it brings. Be sure to jot down our next seasonal celebration which will be on March 1st. The Vernal Equinox will be here sooner than we think. Please remember to visit Beth@Plant Postings as she reveals the Garden Lessons Learned from this past season.
“I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
‘We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,’
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.”
– Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing
Next up on the blog: Next Monday is Christmas Eve, and I will have a special Christmas themed post. My last installment of Simply The Best and Dozen for Diana@ Elephant’s Eye will be on the 26th. On the 31st I will post my next journey and what lies ahead in the New Year. I hope you will join me.
I am also writing a post once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. I hope you will stop over and check it out. You can see my most current post now.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
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