My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Still-Point of Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice to my fellow residents of Earth's northern hemisphere! (And happy Summer Solstice to our southern hemisphere neighbors!)

What most people love about this first day of winter is that after tonight, the days grow longer, the nights shorter. Although I also love sunshine and warm days, I am atypical, for I adore winter and its hibernation-inspiring dormancy and darkness. Maybe it's due to my strong introversion or the fact I'm a child of winter, born in its depths. But I celebrate Winter Solstice not so much for the return of the sun and longer days as for the powerful silence, sweet peace, inner reflection and necessary restoration winter's cozy days and long, dark nights can bring. (No wonder Still, Still, Still is one of my favorite carols!) :-)

I hope you'll enjoy the quotes and images I've gathered as a tribute to winter and her Solstice. Since the holiday season has been made unnaturally contrarian with its clamor and cacophony, chaos and crowds, obligations and acquisitiveness, moments of blessed stillness can be impossible to find and challenging to create. But it is stillness that this serene and slumbering season invites us to embrace, so here's a chance to savor a few moments of quiet meditation on the sweet and simple gifts of winter...

Winter Solstice
Winter Solstice 2009
Dec 21, 5:47 pm Universal Time (GMT)

What fire could ever equal
the sunshine of a winter's day?
~Henry David Thoreau

Winter Solstice: A time to let the longest night of the year
seduce you into stillness.
Time to silence inner voices,
listen to the beating of your own heart.
Time to breathe slowly, become the breath.
Linger here. The night is long.

There is a privacy about it
which no other season gives you...
In spring, summer and fall
people sort of have an open season on each other;
only in the winter, in the country,
can you have longer, quiet stretches
when you can savor belonging to yourself.
~Ruth Stout

Winter solitude—
In a world of one color
The sound of wind.

O Winter! ruler of the inverted year...
I crown thee king of intimate delights,
fireside enjoyments,
home-born happiness, and all the comforts
that the lowly roof of undisturb'd retirement,
and the hours of long, uninterrupted evening, know.
~William Cowper

Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do ~
or because you can now and then permit yourself
the luxury of thinking so.
~Stanley Crawford

Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.
~Pietro Aretino

The color of springtime is in the flowers,
The color of winter is in the imagination.
~Ward Elliot Hour

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
~Bill Morgan, Jr.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind as man's ingratitude.
~William Shakespeare

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:
it is the time for home.
~Edith Sitwell

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
~William Blake

"Hear! hear!" screamed the jay from a neighboring tree,
where I had heard a tittering for some time,
"winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel,
if you know where to look for it."
~Henry David Thoreau, 28 November 1858 journal entry


  1. Thanks for those quotes, they were lovely. I turned off my radio so I could hear them in my head as I read them.

    I also love winter, because it's so beautiful here, and also because all of my favorite activities--reading, knitting, cooking--require long, quiet indoor stretches. When it's warm and sunny, I have this puritan guilt about staying indoors--I should be out doing things. But in winter no one expects me to be out gardening or water skiing or what-have-you, so I can snuggle up in my chair in peace.

    Yay winter and yay introverts. Happy solstice!

  2. Hi, Mary!

    My post was so hot off the press, you were reading it as I was still editing! (Don't know why, but I'll have a post looking just the way I want it till I hit publish, but then Blogger gremlins change my fonts and make them HUGE, put spaces where none were before, and just make my post bear no resemblance to my draft. Then I scramble as fast as I can to fix it before anyone sees it! Of course, maybe the rest of the world isn't seeing what I see. A pitfall of using an ancient iMac in a fast-paced Windows world, I suppose!)

    Anyway, I digress. I loved your comment and we may as well be twins separated at birth, we sound so utterly alike on this. (As it is, we may well be cousins... I've got Mayflower Pilgrim/Puritan DNA, do you?) I doubt I could live where there were no cold or wet days, no excuse to stay inside and do cozy, creative, restful indoor things sans the guilt of missing a sunny day. Thank goodness for Winter, who favors her introvert children. :-) Happy Solstice to you too, Mary!

  3. I wish I could share your love of winter, so you'll have to enjoy it twice as much for the both of us. :) I was hoping life would slow down a bit now that it's arrived, but it's been as hectic as ever! Hopefully after the holidays.

  4. Lovely, Laloofah! Although I do not share quite your poetic appreciation of winter, I am also a child of it, born during Chicago's famous 1967 blizzard. We were snowed into the hospital for two weeks. There is nothing quite like that sound of stillness after a big snow: rapturously beautiful! Thanks for sharing and for reminding me to appreciate winter's blessings. My family did a little solstice ritual earlier and reading this just makes it all perfect.

  5. Okay, Molly, I'll enjoy it enough for both of us. And for the other skazillion people who don't share my fondness of winter! ;-) Don't worry, I'll be in your camp by the Vernal Equinox, when we'll still be facing about three more months of snow (yes, it snows here in June!), no matter what the calendar or Puxatawny Phil might have to say about it. But even if you can't enjoy the weather, I do hope you'll get to enjoy some cozy, restful days soon! :-)

    Marla, I'm so glad this post added a nice post script to your Solstice! I looked up the Chicago Blizzard of 1967 and was impressed! That's quite a story, you should post about it on your birthday! :-) At least your mom made it to the hospital in time. I had a neighbor once who went into labor with her third child during a really bad Nor'easter (is there anything like a blizzard to bring on contractions, I wonder?) and the only way to get her to the hospital was by snowmobile! But her baby was faster than her snowmobile, so little Martha was born on a snowmobile in a Maine blizzard. (Gosh, my own winter birth was entirely uneventful! I feel robbed!) :-)

    We're getting some wintery weather today, but it's supposed to be disgustingly sunny and warm (for these parts) over Christmas weekend. So I'll take the nasty weather from all of you who don't like it, all the travelers whose plans are snarled, and all who lack nice, warm shelter... and I'll give you my balmy-ish sunshine in return. Deal? :-)

  6. Strong introversion, eh? I'll say ditto to that! :-)

    There's no snow where I live but there's rain and I love rain. I love the pitter patter sound, I love seeing it drip off the trees, I love the fresh air afterwards. And our state is always in a drought so rain is also a much-needed blessing for us!

    Thanks for those beautiful pictures and verses. Way to set the mood! It's been so busy and stressful at work, I haven't had much thought for anything else and reading this post really helped put me in a different mindset. Simply beautiful.

  7. VW - Hooray, another introvert checks in! Oh, I'm so glad you've been getting rain! It's wonderful when we get something we both love and need! I enjoy a cozy rainy day now and then (I actually wish we got more of them here than we do, especially in summer) and I especially love rain at night. So soothing!

    I'm sorry to hear it's been so busy and stressful at work (a familiar refrain among my friends and family, I'm sad to say!), but it warmed my heart to hear that this post put you in a different frame of mind and gave you some moments of tranquility! Your comment is lovely and I very much appreciate it! xoxo


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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