Monday, December 21, 2009

The true holiday

For me, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s roll into one big holiday on the winter solistice, time of the shortest day and longest night, after which days start getting longer again. In other words, “here comes the sun”!

This occurs regardless of what religion you ascribe to or calendar you follow, as it’s a phenomenon driven by the Earth’s axial tilt. Almost all cultures celebrate the solstice in one form or another and have done so since the beginning of human time.

Solstice is my Thanksgiving, when I wallow in gratitude for being warm and safe and fed and loved while winter rolls up its sleeves and gets down to business—leaving many a creature cold, endangered, starving, and alone.

Solstice is my Christmas, when I celebrate the ultimate gift—the return of light—and our creator, the universe, which is utterly reliable, relentlessly beautiful, and infinitely wondrous.

Solstice is my New Year, when I toast with loved ones the rebirth of the natural cycle, and make resolutions for the next round of seasons.

So Happy Solstice, everyone! May the new year bring peace and prosperity around the world.

Carolyn Haley

Author: The Mobius Striptease (e-novel, Club Lighthouse Publishing)
Open Your Heart with Gardens
(nonfiction, DreamTime Publishing)
First-year blog archives at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winter finally arrives

Apropos my most recent posting about a late-arriving winter, a friend and colleague has written a lovely piece about the first snow.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

A late winter

Living in the Northeast at 43+ degrees N latitude and 1200+ feet altitude puts us square in the snow belt. By now we usually have a layer down atop frozen ground, but this year the season has arrived late.

We got our first dusting in October, which is pretty much normal; our first measurable snow (a whopping 1 inch!) in early November; finally, today, our first shovel-able snow, just a few wet inches. This time, however, the subsequent weather will remain cold enough to keep it, and winter will finally be underway.

Its late arrival has been a blessing for some and a curse for others (such as regional ski areas, which have been unable to open and missed the Thanksgiving weekend for the first time in decades). For our household, a blessing. We have so many outdoor projects, and make such a mess all summer and fall, that it's always a race to get cleaned up and buttoned up before snowfall, which freezes everything in place for up to 6 months -- one year, even 7 months. This year is the first time we've gotten everything done.

I've appreciated having an extra month to enjoy the outdoors without hats, boots, and mittens, and to drive on dry pavement. Had I known the mild stretch was coming, I would have done more transplanting and garden prep.

Now it's time for indoor projects, and I welcome weather excuses to travel less. Winter, after all, is hibernation time for many species. I wish we could hibernate, too! But I'll settle for a chance to lie low for a while . . . even though I'm already counting down to the solstice, when the days start getting longer again.

Carolyn Haley
Author: Open Your Heart with Gardens
First-year blog archives at