Monday, December 21, 2009

winter solstice 2009

I started thinking about this post on Friday, imagining something grand and wonderful, with accompanying pictures that would perfectly illustrate my words. A number of ideas came and went over the weekend, mostly related to music.

I heard Polyphony's rendition of the Donkey Carol and had thoughts of putting that music to a short video of Rafer Johnson and Redford, doing what they do best - running around the entire front field, taking turns pushing and resisting and holding the crest of the other by the teeth, firmly enough to guide, but gently enough to leave no mark.

For most of November and December I listen to George Winston's December cd, and his rendition of Pachelbel's Canon is one that makes me want to overcome my block regarding playing the piano, which I studied for 9 years as a child/teen and then gave up. Now I can't remember the left hand notes. The only thing that would compel me to struggle through that is playing the Canon the way George does. I had a brief fantasy of having a grand piano delivered to X in the riding arena, where I would play Pachelbel while horses and pony and donkeys danced in circles around me. Wouldn't the video of that be a perfect winter solstice post?

Given the fact that I would need an entire year to acccomplish that led me last night to looking for you tube videos of George Winston playing, or videos using Robert Frost's Stopping By Woods poem as the theme. In the end, I abandoned the keyboard to watch way too many episodes of the first season of West Wing, which I watched on DVD a few years ago and have now decided to watch again. I love the writing and the pacing and the way the cast brings the show to life. There was something winter solstice-like about the entire show, and when the first disk came on Friday, with EIGHT episodes, I knew there would be a binge at some point.

This has been an odd year for me. A number of milestones that most of us go through as we live our lives. The death of a parent, the death of a beloved dog, a physical injury that stopped me in my tracks for a few weeks. Caring for an older mare who seems bent on teaching me that aging is a process, and sometimes what seems catastrophic is just a bad day. And that there are not always clear answers to the question "what do we do now?"

I was holding her head on Friday, just being with her and stroking her eye. Salina is a black horse, perfect symbol for the winter solstice, and yet when I stood there holding her head in my arms what I noticed most were the silvery white hairs that sprinkle her face, much like the dawn of the day that follows the longest night. The days that grow longer, bit by bit.

This morning the first images of the winter solstice out my window were Keil Bay and Cody standing side by side in the front field, eating together from a small pile of hay. Now, as I look out, Keil Bay is standing alone in the morning sun, gazing directly at my window, his white star brilliant against his red bay coat.

There have been sounds of various cats growling and stalking, monitored closely by Kyra the Corgi, who likes order and wants them all marching to her Corgi drum.

It's chilly, but the day promises to get warm enough that I can do chores without a jacket. We have a special meal planned, and dessert, and a new box of white candles to light this evening. Today I plan to take a walk in the woods, and maybe I'll take the green velcro sleigh bells out and attach them to a halter or bridle just to hear the jingle and think of Robert Frost.

Tonight I hope to have a small bonfire. I have a stash of big stones by the labyrinth path that I've been collecting to make a fire pit. And sometime today I will set aside an hour to write another chapter in the pony book, which grew by many pages during my writing retreat, but is coming more slowly now.

In years past I have posted poems and excerpts meaningful to this day, and I think I'll look back in the archives and read them again. Mostly, I want to mark the passing of this year, and focus on the coming year, which I think will be a good one.

Happy winter's solstice to everyone. I hope you find something today - a moment in nature, a photograph, a piece of music, a poem - that invites pause enough to stop and reflect on the year that's passed and the year that is coming. How darkness grows and then the light comes. How marking the passage of things makes us human.


Mamie said...

I have told friends and family alike that I want George Winston's version of Palchelbel played at my memorial service. The music beings slowly, builds to a crescendo, and ends quietly, just like most of our lives.

I'm hosting a Winter Solstice reading party at my house tonight. Friends from different classes and workshops are reading a couple of pages. I like the idea of ushering in the winter with friends by a fire, reading to each other.

Love the photograph of the house in the snow. And thanks for the lovely post. I look forward to reading many more in '10.

billie said...

Mamie, I love your winter solstice gathering to read plans - it sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate the day!

May 2010 bring good things for us all.

Grey Horse Matters said...

This was such a wonderful thoughtful post. It is written so well telling about all the things in your life this past year. Each thing you describe is so real I feel like I've known you for years, you have such a descriptive way with words. Then again you are an author so I'm sure it comes naturally.

As I reflect on all the events that visited me this past year I realize all I have to be thankful for. It's been a wonderful year full of (mostly) healthy critters and the birth of a new granddaughter. Add to that my two other happy healthy grandchildren, a wonderful husband and three lovely grown children and there seems to be nothing better to celebrate the beginning of a new year. Wonders seen through a child's eyes are what keeps me balanced and happy.

I'm wishing you and yours a lovely winter solstice tonight around the fire.

billie said...

Arlene, thank you. Your comment is a favorite gift of the day, already.

Enjoy all your blessings, and thank you for the very kind and loving things you do for horses. And all the wonderful information you share over at Grey Horse Matters.

Michelle said...

Billie, your post is beautiful. I love your perspective and the rich detail in your writing. I know that 2010 will be a fantastic year and I'm so glad to have "met" you through this wonderful forum. Your writings are a joy for me to read.

billie said...

Thank you, Michelle. It's always a gift when you come by. Here's to a rich and vibrant new year!

Anonymous said...

Hi billie,
So glad I found your blog with such wonderful, challenging, and radiant posts.
Today, the horses danced around me in the wind and sunlight as I brought out their hay - even Canon got carried away with the merriment. Each time I passed through they danced away from my path, bucking and kicking and running after I'd settled to spread the hay or closed the gate behind me. A wonderful, wild celebration of joy with my herd became my solstice treasure today.
I wish you all the best in the coming year, and that it be filled with joy.

billie said...

Oh, Wendy, I love that image of a solstice frolic!

Salina went out in the front field for an hour this afternoon and looked so good I thought we might be over the hump with her. Then she came back in and gave a wild buck just as she got to the barn, and after that she was a bit stiff for a few minutes. I started to sigh and then decided she must have wanted to kick up her heels and although she can't tell me in so many words, maybe the stiffness afterward is worth that moment of joy.

Thinking of you in your green mountains makes me happy today.

enlightened horsemanship said...

Thanks for this. So much to think about, no point in leaving a comment that would detract from its already perfect completeness.

billie said...

Kim, I was just over at your place to see what you had to say about the solstice! Good to see you here, and I so appreciate your kind words.

ponymaid said...

Ahhhh Billie, thank you for the lovely word pictures. We've all been wondering about Salina and I'm glad to hear she's kicking up her heels on this darkest day of the year. An equine version of thumbing one's nose. She always makes us smile with her firm outlook on life.

billie said...

Sheaffer, she is a grand old gal and it's my greatest pleasure when her spunk shows itself.

Sending our best solstice greetings to you and yours. I was happy to read that you put your hoof down with The Woman about the holiday frippery. Dignity reigns!