Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
I wasn’t sure if winter would show itself before the solstice or before I wrote this post. But there is nothing more reliable here than knowing we will have snow before the solstice and usually before December. For me, snow signals winter and the coming of the next season sometimes the longest and not so welcome of seasons here. But I take solace in knowing in other parts of the world, there is warmth and sunshine as summer arrives on this date in the Southern half of the world.
I think the best snows are those that cling to everything washing the landscape out, but at the same time blinding us as the sun reflects off the sparkling crystals. The snow can also weigh you down after a while as it comes and doesn’t relent until mid to late March. It is especially weighty when it starts in late October and goes until April. Much too long to be buried in white with no colors to break up the landscape.
“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.” ~Andrew Wyeth
For those of us North of the equator, I find myself in a more sequestered time unable to work in the garden or see much of anything but white. I really love the Frost poem above as it epitomizes the coming of the winter solstice. I find watching snow to be meditative. It feels as if I am being swallowed up in it unable to see the boundaries of my garden or my life. With the edges blurred it is hard to know where I am. I feel off kilter and floating about like snow flakes on a light breeze. But the snow is lovely to see as it gives a clean coat of fluffy white to everything making it a perfect symbol of renewal.
“I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.” ~Henry David Thoreau
As an astronomical event, the winter solstice is the time when the sun is at its southernmost point in the sky appearing at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon giving us the fewest hours of daylight in the Northern hemisphere. It occurs either December 21st or 22nd.
Ancient celebrations of the solstice were founded on the idea of surviving the harsh winters. Animals were slaughtered so they did not have to be fed during winter giving people fresh meat during this time. Wine and beer were finally ready for drinking and used in celebrations.
But the winter solstice also signals a time of events and celebrations worldwide. Many cultures see it as a time of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals and rituals.
- Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas, December 25th.
- And for children it is the time to prepare for Santa, Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas or one his varied names around the world born from many legends.
- In east Asia there is the Dongzhi Festival when families get together to celebrate the solstice.
- In Jamaica, the Bahamas and West Africa Jonkanoo is celebrated as a fantastic masquerade and street festival.
- In Scandinavia Saint Lucy’s Day is celebrated which occurs on December 13, the Winter solstice according to the old Julian calendar.
- Soyalangwul is the winter solstice ceremony of the Zuni and Hopi (Native American tribes in the SW United States). The ritual is held on December 21 to ceremonially bring the sun back from its winter slumber, and to mark the beginning of another cycle of the Wheel of the Year.
- Hanukkah also known as the Festival of Lights is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the 2nd century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.
- And more recently there is the celebration of Kwanzaa a week-long secular holiday honoring African-American heritage, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year.
While winter can be a most depressing time of year, I am hopeful that I can celebrate the season well past the solstice. I will keep my garden alive indoors under grow lights, and wait for those rare thaws when I can see a bit of green outside. Of course my friends South of the equator are basking in their hot summer sun surrounded by beautiful blooms which will help keep me going too.
I hope you will join in now and tell us all about how you are celebrating the new season especially around this very special solstice Just write a post and leave a comment here with your Seasonal Celebrations link.
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.
“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you ….. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” ~Ruth Stout
Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time. I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether winter or summer or something else. Share your traditions, holidays and celebrations in pictures and words.
And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme. What lessons have you learned this past season of autumn here in the North and spring in the South. Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.
The rules are simple. Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations. If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts. Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post. Make sure to include a link with your comment.
Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the solstice (around the 21st of December). And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog. Your post should be linked in the weekend before the solstice to give us enough time to include your post in our summary. And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (which I still have to create). The badges here can be used in your post. So won’t you join in the celebration!!
Next up on the blog: Monday will be time for an assessment of the November garden. In December I plan to look at the blooms of the past, savor another Garden Book and present my last native plant for the final installment of Simply The Best and Dozen for Diana@ Elephant’s Eye. Of course I will be presenting my Garden Lessons Learned too.
I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my most current post now. A new post goes up on the 11th.
Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.
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