Wednesday, December 21, 2011

solstice gifts 2011

The winter solstice is my favorite holiday of the year. The thought of the longest night appeals to me, a life-long night owl with many memories of late-night revelry, creative peaks, and the quiet that falls even in the busiest of households when everyone but me is asleep.

I love the metaphors of light and dark, and have woven them into all my books. Jane's Transformation (book one in my Magical Pony School middle grade series) literally begins on the afternoon of the winter solstice. If novels have seasons other than that in which they take place, I think it's true that all mine are winter solstice novels, looking at darkness and light and how one contributes to the other.

Every year I wait for what gifts the solstice day will bring. A couple of years ago it was a baby raccoon in the big oak tree by our barn. Tiny little thing, a living metaphor of light and dark. He or she came down and you can see the painted pony (a metaphor himself of light and dark!) looking on with curiosity.

Another year there were black vultures in the tree by the mailbox, inky black against the white-gray sky.

Today I walked out to the barn to feed breakfast tubs to the equines and the first thing I noticed were the bare trees, dark with soaked-in rain, and the white overcast sky.

As I stood in the dim feed room mixing tubs, with my strand of white twinkle lights burning and NPR on the radio, Keil Bay started his Hanoverian breakfast chorus. He whinnies and sings for his breakfast almost every morning, but today it got quiet and I continued mixing. Although I didn't hear any horse sounds, I suddenly felt the presence of something close by, and I turned to find that Keil Bay had somehow opened his stall door, tiptoed across the barn aisle, and was standing with his head and neck inside the door of the feed room, in arm's reach.

Later I was dumping the muck barrow along my compost snake in the back field. I had my back to the forest and was looking up toward the barn when I heard something in the woods behind me.

A small herd of the November Hill deer were walking up the hill across from me, walking further into the woodline, almost invisible except for the white flashing of tails. Over and over again they flagged their tails, stopping and then slowly walking further into the woods.

The black tree trunks, heavy with rain, the shadows of the deeper woods, and those white flashing tails. Another wonderful solstice gift.

If you've read the story of November Hill Press you know that the deer played a huge part in its creation. Today, looking toward a new year, seeing them flashing their call across the clearing was its own bit of magic.

Happy winter solstice to all! 


Grey Horse Matters said...

There are so many examples of dark and light surrounding your place.
Happy winter solstice to you too.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

I hope you are enjoying the summer, I mean winter solstice billie. ;) Don't know about out your way, but it's beach weather on the coast today.

The adding light phase of the year is very welcome. And it's easy to dream wild garden dreams with this kind of weather, even though there are not enough hours to accomplish all of the outside activities.

Best wishes to you and your family, (in no particular order) human, equine, canine, feline... for health and happiness in the New Year.


billie said...

Thanks, A - we have another gray/black day here but WARM. A bit odd for the first day of winter!

billie said...

Thanks, C, and yes it is 70 degrees here right now. Muggy and muddy. All I can think of is the quarry and big dump trucks full of screenings and gravel in every size. :)

And thank you for that gorgeous card. It's hanging in my tack room right now!

Máire said...

That essay paints a vivid picture - lovely to share it over here.

billie said...

Maire, thanks. You do the same and I always eagerly await your next post!