Saturday, 22 December 2012
To You and Yours, a Very Happy Winter Solstice
It hardly feels like winter this year. For this time in December, the weather has been too warm and too wet. Hardly any snow at all yet.
In the woods, "warm and wet" translates into all kinds of healthy vibrant fungus. The fungi and the molds have certainly been thriving. I've seen some this year that I've never seen before.
Dog and I were out in some woods today. These particular woods are primarily pine woods and very sandy soil. On the trail itself today I counted five kinds of moss growing vigorously in spite of being trod upon. There are several separate sand pits along the fringes. Two of the sand pits are rather hilly with some fell and burned timber, a few old tires, and some rocks and stands of water. The third is flat and primarily grass mixed in with the sand. Dog seems to like all of it. The hills, the sand, the grass, the woods with moss and pine needles underneath. She came back with a couple of porcupine quills stuck up one of her nares a couple of weeks ago but they pulled right out with no problem. Today I caught a whiff of skunk just when dog found some deer manure to lightly perfume her coat with.
We share the woods with other day trippers, four wheelers, snowmobiles, cross country skiiers, and deer hunters. We all seem to get along up here and there isn't the fighting between the different groups like there usually is. I'm glad of that.
Today dog and I went off in these particular woods with the sandy soil, the mosses, and the pine needles to celebrate the winter solstice. It is the longest night of the year. From here on out, the dark will begin to ever so gradually shorten until the summer solstice. And then the pattern will begin again. We have historical records of folks celebrating this time of year with festivals dedicated to the light in various forms. Solstice is indeed like Christmas. Historically, festivals of light are much older than Christmas. The Holy Roman Empire and the Mother Church co-opted bits and pieces of Saturnalia and thus the Christ Child's birth came to be celebrated on December 25, 2012. On Christmas, Christians celebrate the Divine Light that has come into the world.
Although I am not a Christian, I think it is rather a shame that Christmas has become so commercialized in the United States. There are times when I think the Christians should start over by picking another date. Or, if that is not doable, perhaps Christmas eve can be celebrated as a sort of solemn Christ-maas. And leave Christmas day to the overactive consumers of material goods.
I object to the presence of Gray Thursday. I've gotten used to Black Friday. I cope with Black Friday by staying home to avoid the crowds. Thanksgiving is a holiday [or day of mourning, depending upon one's persuasion] in its' own right. There is no sale that can force me away from the company of friends and loved ones on Turkey Day. And so here we are, on Solstice. And the last minute shopping weekend before Christmas. This weekend while others are hunting for bargains and parking spaces, I will be in the woods with the dog both days. As a Solstice celebrant, I think I got the better end of that bargain. Time with the dog in the woods is much preferable to roaming up and down aisles and tossing things into a shopping cart. It is a simpler life and a calmer way of being that I have embraced within my atheism.
Happy Solstice everyone. May the season of the long dark leave you rested and ready to plant in the springtime!