Tomorrow is the Solstice. The turning. Here, in the northern hemisphere, it is the sweet, imperceptible turning back towards the light. But for now – and for more weeks to come – everything feels quiet. Waiting. Hibernating.
Of course I know everything is gently ticking over. My blood still circulates and I am breathing. I know that deep in the soil the bulbs are moving. In another month or so the first snowdrops will emerge. Squirrels are still coming out, late morning, to scamper around in search of this or that, children still need to play and the birds, as always, are doing their thing. I did my 'timed tetrad visit' a few days ago, counting species around here for the new Bird Atlas. Yet despite all that, it still feels like Nature's quietest time of year.
As above, so below. Or rather, as outside, so inside. It is my quietest time of year, too. A hermit at the best of times, at midwinter I feel myself turn inwards even further, in towards myself, towards our life here in the cottage, towards contemplation, meditation, reading novels in the cosy warmth of the woodstove, playing on my computer.
I like the idea of a ritual to mark the promise of the returning light. So we shall have our private celebration, our small, midwinter feast in honour of the Solstice. But we long ago let go of that whole Christmas stress-out that so many people seem to get caught up in. Dashing round the shopping malls buying stuff? Forget it! It is entirely the wrong time of year for frenetic activity.
But the same mindless, ugly consumer culture that has turned Christmas into a shopping spree and a simple Christmas tree into a lawn full of hideous, plastic crap is the one that has driven a wedge between humans and Nature. If we were really listening, really tuned in to the energies around us we would not be hurtling around Wal-Mart. We would all of us, here in the north, be sitting quietly by the fireside by ourselves or with our loved ones, breathing gently like the quiet hedgerows, like the bare trees, like the silent, resting land around us, waiting for the light.