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Winter Solstice

The darkness of this season never fails to catch me by surprise. I find myself captivated by light: the splendor of stars, ancient expressions of distant suns giving context for our ever-shifting place in this galaxy; and the moon, dazzlingly radiant when the fullness of its reflection spills across winter snowscapes.

When I am most present in the wild place I call home, I notice how seamlessly our more-than-human kin respond to seasonality. Their wisdom and cooperation are gifts to witness. And the Western constructs I’ve inherited, often modeled after mechanized production, feel incompatible with what I experience around me. The Gregorian calendar repeats familiar weekdays and weekends, but it ignores how the bodies of northerners like myself respond to the fourteen-hour shift in darkness between solstices. Such systems offer a tidy way of dividing the world, but I ponder the implications of this separation.

Here in the final days of 2021, my colleagues and I are taking time off to honor the season by prioritizing rest. It has been a challenging but fruitful year. And at least for me, the simplicity of such time offers more room to account for true riches: spruce trees that transform the sun’s energy into a material that I can transform into heat when the sun is distant; subsistence foods, harvested with reverence in times of abundance, which build community when given as freely as the earth offers them; quietude, generally defined by the absence of humanity, elevating stories told through nonverbal forms.

Recently, I was asked by a dear friend and AMCC supporter what gives me hope. In a time when so much feels like a call to action and a reason to fight, I appreciated the peace that her question brought even before I found my answer: that this good earth appears determined to offer its medicines, even in times of what might appear to be absence, like winter. Such magic will continue inspiring people to love it fiercely, no matter how effective I am at adhering to my calendar.

Wishing you peace and rejuvenation in this season of rest. May the gifts of this planet continue to surprise and delight you.

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