All Dressed up for the Winter Solstice Ball

Happy Winter Solstice, my friends!

We finally have snow here in the foothills of the White Mountains of New Hampshire and I am one happy camper. While so many people in northern climates pine (pun intended) to head south to warmer weather, I shiver with delight at the sight of a winter storm.

For someone with a mostly cold Vata constitution, this might seem odd. And I do admit to loving beach vacations back in the day, but I have learned how to weather the cold with layers layers layers, warm boots, hats, and gloves. I like to be warm in cold weather. And I love having four real seasons.

I am a December baby, after all. Maybe that’s the reason. Sagittarius is a fire sign and perhaps that’s what keeps me warm.

Last December on my birthday, my first year living in The Bear Den, I sat at this computer writing while a Nor’easter blew all around me. I had a fire going in my wood-burning stove, a power outage, and I seriously couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face.

This year the snow arrived on the 18th, one day after my birthday. It wasn’t a Nor’easter, but it was a healthy amount of snow that hasn’t been washed away by rain. The sun is shining and so the fairy sparkles are back and my world here is transformed into a winter wonderland.

Perhaps my solo ceremony on the night of my birthday brought forth this gift for me. I made myself a big plate of spaghetti, lit a fire outside in my new firepit, and did a little soul searching. Then I walked into the woods (my first night walk ever) lit only by the almost-full moon. It was pure magic. The only thing missing was the Wolf who lives in my imagination and my dreams.

When it snows here the woods out back are transformed and it always reminds me of the winter scene in the film “Camelot”. I like to hurry out there while it’s still snowing and before any wind has a chance to blow the snow off of the treetops.

As I wandered among these sentient beings I noticed that they looked as though they were dressed for a ball. Maybe they were anticipating the Solstice approaching. The older mature White Pines stood watching, their outfits too high up in the air to see, but the smaller Hemlocks stole the show!

One little Hemlock standing on the edge of the path stood straight and tall with her beautiful white gown clinging to her branches. But, alas, like Cinderella at the ball, the wind had blown her gown off of her when I returned later in the day.

Another Hemlock had a bit of a friendly tree monster look about him. 

The Beech trees had the most colorful outfits, of course, as their magical way of hanging onto their golden leaves makes them stand out all winter long.

And this little sapling won the award for “Most Delicate”.

I have managed to all but extricate myself from the holiday frenzy which has Vata-deranged me (as they say in Ayurveda) for most of my life. I’m spending a great deal of time wandering in the woods, off the beaten path. I stumbled upon a patch of young Hemlocks the other day and a Birch tree whose above the ground roots looked like a portal into a fairy realm. The whole area, in fact, looked otherworldly and for a moment, I thought that maybe I would become a character in one of those stories where people disappear into another space and time. Stolen by the fairies. Or in my case, going willingly.  

My connection keeps going in and out as I’m writing and I can’t help but see the irony. I should be outside. The Internet be damned. And yet, I feel that writer’s pull to share.

I cannot begin to explain how much gratitude I have to be living my life so intimately with Nature. This has been a year of tremendous healing for me.

And, speaking of gratitude, let me introduce you to The Little Barn!

All year I looked longingly at this barn at the end of my driveway. I can see it from my kitchen window. When I rented this house the barn wasn’t included and I knew that the owners had other plans for it. It’s brand new and is in the location where my lil house was before they moved it to the top of the hill. So, I would look out of my window while washing dishes and dream of what I could do in that barn. 

Start painting again. 

Maybe have an apothecary. 

Or just sit and daydream up stories, while the light streams in through the huge skylight on the roof. 

When I pulled out of the driveway I would say “Goodbye Little Barn. I’ll be back.” And then one day I got up the nerve to ask my landlords if maybe I could rent it along with the house and they said “YES!”

I got the go-ahead last month to move things into the barn and one morning I lugged a huge painting panel that I’d brought with me to put in there. When I got to the door and set the panel down, a little dragonfly flew out of nowhere (it was a cold day!) and fluttered around my head before landing on the panel. Then she lingered in front of my face before going under the porch step. I sat down on the stoop and burst into tears of gratitude. How on earth did I manifest all of this magical goodness?

I could fill a book with my dragonfly stories. Plain and simple, they are fairies to me. Or messengers to the fairies.

Kim Krans, in her “The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Guidebook” says of Dragonfly:

“The Dragonfly is an ancient and ethereal creature that awakens a sense of wonder in all…the dragonfly reminds us to calm the mind so the light of wisdom can shine through.”

Since Sagittarius season began last month I have been feeling this incredible surge of creativity. I can’t wait to see what magic will happen in The Little Barn. It smells of newly hewn wood and possibility. There’s a huge Mugwort patch right outside, along with Mullein, Goldenrod, and a host of other medicinal plants. And even an abandoned (but oh-so-cute) outhouse behind the barn.

I just realized that the Sagittarius season ends today. On to Capricorn. I didn’t know anything about Astrology for fifty years of my life (and still only know a smidgeon) and while it’s not for everyone, it has given me many incredible nuggets of wisdom. Lots of ah-ha moments. I don’t plan my life by it. I don’t even read my daily horoscope. But, when I dip into it I’m always amazed.

So, I hope you all have a blessed Winter Solstice and that you are able to get outside in Nature if even for just a little while. With each passing year, I embrace these cold dark days of winter more and more. My solitude is a precious gift to me and part of my path.  It has changed me. Never lonely, at 68, I feel so renewed by Nature that time seems to have slipped away into some sort of abyss. What a gift that is. For me, anyway, the freedom-loving Sag with a North Node in Capricorn. Maybe not for you!

I hope that wherever you are in your life you are able to feel at home and at peace with who you are. Living in the moment has become such a trite saying but I embrace it with all of my heart. I have let go of the past and as for the future, well, I trust that whatever comes my way is meant to be.

My dear Irish friend sent this beautiful Homage to the Winter Solstice video to me this morning, filmed live from the Hill of Tara at dawn, day and dusk. I hope you enjoy it. My heart aches to hug my friend once more and to walk again on the land of my ancestors in Ireland and Scotland.

Much love,
Barbara

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