Tuesday, December 21, 2010

winter solstice 2010

Without doing anything special, I began celebrating this year's winter solstice yesterday just after sunset. I was at the barn, preparing stalls for horses and donkeys, and as the geldings came in to gather beneath their shelter off the back of our barn, I let them through so they could join Salina and the donkey boys in the big barnyard.

As I did that I noticed the big yellow moon rising behind the back field, as though she knew she would be eclipsed later in the evening and needed to shine especially bright as she ascended.

This is why it takes me so long to do chores. I end up stopping: to watch floating horses, laughing donkeys, felicitous felines, luscious light, and fancy full moons.

Cody let me know that he was ready for a clean stall with a full manger when he began to try getting into the hay tent from the side. As strong as they are, I quickly imagined him ripping the entire tent in half, so trotted out with a lead line and asked him to come on in. His stall was ready. He went in gladly.

After a few minutes, Keil Bay sauntered in, assuming his, too, was ready. And it was, so I opened his stall door and waved him in.

Salina came in, followed by the donkeys. Their side was ready too, but Salina was too busy guarding the barn door so the painted pony couldn't come in to notice. The painted pony was so enjoying the barnyard he didn't really care that his stall wasn't ready yet.

Since the wheelbarrow was full and I knew my husband would be home at any second, I decided to wait and let him dump the last load so I could get started on grooming.

Every few minutes I walked out to the barnyard to look up and see how high the moon was and how she had changed from yellow to an almost uncanny blue/white.

Keil Bay was fairly well covered in dried mud so it took awhile to groom him. Cody was thankfully not so dirty, and Salina and the pony were miraculously very clean. The donkeys had no mud - it would never occur to them to roll on wet ground - they save the rolling after rain and snow for the barn aisle, where they are sure to get some good dust worked into their very furry coats.

They did have some hay tucked into their fur, and they love the feel of the brushing, so I gave them each a good turn.

Although it wasn't yet the longest night, I felt as though it was, and decided there is no better way to spend an evening than just the way I'd spent it.

A well-used (in terms of manure and urine) stall transforms to a fluffy, clean one with fresh hay and water via the fairly meticulous application of hay fork and muck rake.

Dirty (and happy) equines come clean with a little elbow grease.

The checking of water troughs and the night-time rituals of bringing rinsed feed tubs in to the feed room, where they are lined up in order, the removal of hoses that are laid out down the hill so they don't freeze up overnight, and the pause to listen to horses munching when I turn out the lights.

All guided by the magic of barn time and marked by the rise of a very special moon.

Although we will celebrate today's solstice proper with intention and some special rituals, it was last night's impromptu celebration that marks, for me, the shift toward longer days and light.

Happiest of solstices to everyone!


Anonymous said...

I like the concept of "barn time" - it's a special time for me too as I do chores.

And I enjoy cleaning up a dirty horse (as long as the mud isn't wet). But snow-cleaned horses are nice too!

We didn't get to see the eclipse due to cloud cover - I bet it was lovely.

billie said...

Kate, I always feel a shift in time as I walk out to the barn. It's very distinct for me.

I've seen some photos of the eclipse but did not even consider getting up to watch, as I was ready for sleep last night! On some level, I felt like the eclipse would be as beautiful w/o my seeing it as it would if I got up to look. I hope the horses and donkeys enjoyed the shifting light.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

I too, lingered at the barn last night, watching the moon rise over the trees while doing a few extra chores. The wind had fallen out. It was beautiful and peaceful, just me and the horses.

We had perfect eclipse viewing conditions. After bundling up to head outside, I figured out it was visible from my front window - bonus :)

billie said...

sounds perfect! I am making chicken soup with tortellini and rolls for dinner here, and have candles ready and our poem to read.

This evening I watched the sun set with the horses from the arena. The sun was never even visible today, but for about 10 minutes as it set the western sky turned the most perfect shade of silvery pink and then it all went to orange areas that seen through the bare black branches of trees made it seem the trees were decorated with balls of fire.

And then quite suddenly it was gone.

I came inside to discover that one of our porch lights, which hasn't worked in a year, suddenly came on. What a metaphor for the coming year. :)

Grey Horse Matters said...

I too like to linger in the barn and listen to the sound of happy munching horses. We usually go back after a while to shut the lights and do a night check. This is the favorite part for the horses and me I think. They can hear us coming and there's a lot of snuffling and low nickering in anticipation of their carrots.

I look forward to the days getting a little longer each day after the solstice. The moon was beautiful last night but I couldn't stay up to watch the eclipse. I'm just too tired after a full day. Love your post background by the way.

billie said...

Arlene, I couldn't stay up either - I figured if I did, I'd never get things done today!

ponymaid said...

Billie, as always, your word pictures are magnificent and moving.

billie said...

Sheaffer, thank you so much.