Winter solstice resolutions

Birches

Resolved: to forego a proper solstice sunrise photo and substitute instead a photo of favorite birch trees. They are as beautiful as any old sun, and throw off their glow all year round. What’s not in the picture is the dog, who is a boat in my gaze’s current, floating directly in line with wherever I point the camera. Sometimes I can fool him by focusing on something to my left or right, then swinging quickly back to the original object of my lens’ desire. In this photo, he’s just to the left, and I cropped him out. Not because he’s not beautiful, but because he isn’t a birch tree.

Resolved: to forego a proper solstice poem and substitute instead a poem by Wallace Stevens:

Valley Candle

My candle burned alone in an immense valley.
Beams of the huge night converged upon it,
Until the wind blew.
Then beams of the huge night
Converged upon its image,
Until the wind blew.

I love this poem because it has so many possible interpretations, a mood ring of a poem that means what I want it to mean on any given reading. Today his valley is my valley. Today, this house is the candle. The solstice is the huge night, and the promise of the sun’s return is the beams. The wind, of course, is the wind. The dog is standing next to me, staring at the cat on his bed, willing the cat to move or me to move the cat. And all I do is try to point out the second, empty dog bed, a mere three feet further from me than the first. For the dog, perhaps I am the candle, and the dog bed is the immense valley, and the cat is the wind.

Resolved: to forego a proper solstice song and substitute one I didn’t know existed until about four hours ago, because it mentions cold, and because Joan Shelley writes songs I can listen to endlessly. Shelley is from Kentucky so maybe her thermometer is different from mine, but either way this song feels suited to the day, while I’m writing by the fire and the sun has slipped behind the hill and the snow is brittle and shiny with ice.

Fire warms and fire burns
Now I’ve learned
The cost of the cold.

When I started writing this, I felt so full of resolve, but now I feel tired, worn small and smooth by the endless rush of the day and the hurry to make hay while the sun glides just inches above the horizon. I pine for long summer days, but there’s an unrecognizable part of me that relishes these early, switched off evenings, when so little is expected.

Tomorrow we gain less than a tenth of a second of daylight. We won’t feel it much, but our bones will somehow know it, our hearts will somehow sing it, and our hands will set to their work. There’s so much to do, and so much light to gather in.

p.s. Forget my resolve, I need to share this solstice poem by Liz Lochead with you, because, well, you’ll see.

356 : 366

5 thoughts on “Winter solstice resolutions

  1. loved the entire post. “I felt so full of resolve, but now I feel tired” so do I. Loved the solstice poem. thank you and may you have a rest that we all need. Merry Christmas from Iowa

  2. I really liked that solstice poem. Thank you. It’s a grim sort of rainy day and poetry is especially welcome. As I’m typing these words a sliver of sunlight has broken through the white sky. And my light gathering begins.

  3. Gathering the light is definitely something we all need to do. I am glad that we have passed the shortest day and the longest night, but there are times during the depths of January and February, standing with the goats under the bowl of sky and watching those wondrous stars moving. And as much as I groan about the winter sometimes, I really look forward to those moments, even as the light is gathering in.

    And many thanks for the song and the Solstice poem. Lovely. I have never come across Joan Shelley!

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