“Where should I look to see signs of the solstice in nature? Everywhere. For all of Earth’s creatures, nothing is so fundamental as the length of daylight. After all, the sun is the ultimate source of light and warmth on Earth.” Earth&Sky
I’ve been clearing the basement to make room for Fletcher to sleep down there over Christmas. It’s cold up in the guest cabin (and, no Wi-Fi), the rest of the family are in the upstairs guest rooms, and in recent years, he seems to be quite content there with an aero-bed. There’s a TV monitor where he can hook up his xbox, and when the adults begin to shut down at night over their last splash of whiskey, he makes his popcorn in the microwave and disappears down the stairs. After he left last summer, Cormac, at age 12, decided it was his time to claim the space. Actually, he alternated between nights in the dormitory room, and the basement, but he, too, is growing up at lightning speed.
Other than the ping-pong table, the basement is just full of stuff stacked on metal shelves. Our spinning bikes are there, parked in front of the TV monitor. And, years ago, we put big brightly colored foam squares on the floor to define a play area for the little kids. Who, amongst us, does not have childhood memories of being sent to the basement to play, relieving the adults of racket and mayhem. In my cleaning up, it was time to get rid of another bin of outdated toys, and make room for more seating, so more people can do that X-box thing. Some time ago, the riding vehicles which zoomed around the perimeter of the basement, wheels falling off, steering wheels broken, went to Salvation Army. The Barbie dolls are gone and Sarah’s old American Girl dolls and trunk are stored in an upstairs closet. Basically, all that was left was the basket of trucks, cars, airplanes, emergency vehicles, and lots of motorcycles. Fletcher was the motorcycle guy–I cannot believe how many little motorcycles have roared around this house through the years. I loaded up my car with the little vehicles, destined for a thrift store, and over the past few days, as I drove up and down our bumpy road, sirens and bells started going off in the back of the car (how do those batteries last so long?!), reminding me I still had not made the drop-off. I have to confess I’ve been delaying. I’ve been telling myself that I need to take the time to select the right thrift store, one with the best chance of delighting a child for Christmas, but I’ve rather enjoyed hearing those old sounds, as I’ve bounced up and down the road. At last, I dropped them off yesterday morning at Bigfork’s Reloved Thrift Store, thinking they might look festive in their big display window, trimmed in garland and colored fairy lights.
The Winter Solstice is today, and we’ll do our customary walk out on the north edge of the lake, to just be present, as the last of the light fades into the longest night. There’s no snow this year, and plenty of sunshine, 50 degree temperatures, which feels so strange. I went out there a few days ago, in time for the 9:00 sunrise over the mountain range, and watched as the sun spread across the packed sand, and reflected in the thin ice at water’s edge. I stayed for nearly an hour, soaking in the wonder of that light, grateful we can count on its return. The solstice is always a time of letting go, to focus on stuff that no longer serves us, to open up energy for what we may need at this time in our lives. These long dark nights create a space to reflect on all of this, and as my years on this Earth grow shorter, it seems essential. At bedtime, we will leave a candle burning on the dining room table, to light the dark night, and sometime after the blue twilight of morning, the sun is rising, whether we can see it or not.