Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I lay on my back in the snow, watching the stars materializing in the blue evening haze. You can't catch them appearing -- only notice that they are there -- where they weren't a moment ago. I wondered, as I lay on my back with the cold earth draining life's warmth from my body, whether my core would begin to compensate by burning more hotly. Maybe it did, but the winter earth could absorb it all.
I gathered with friends around a cauldron of fire to celebrate the solstice and we all spoke of the things that the turning of the year meant to us -- that moment, that shift, when the light begins inevitably to increase rather than decrease. Icy wind brought a writhing to the flames and the orange coals throbbed. Cold never depresses me. I love the snow and the division of nature into the dormant and the determined. (As one around the fire put it, there is something powerfully revitalizing about winter's dormancies.) But it's true that the days are grown too short and the nights too long. That solstice shift not only signals the returning balance of the light, but it also affirms that planetary clockwork that brings spring and summer back.
We all warmed ourselves inside the house with rich, dark hot chocolate.