The Winter Solstice

It’s the eve of the winter solstice.  The longest night of the year is before us and at dawn I will happily welcome in the new sun.  I’m tired of the darkness.  It wraps itself around me and lulls me to sleep.  Now with each passing day the time spent in darkness decreases.  As the time spent in light gets longer I will have more energy.  The new sun gives me hope.  It is also the start of the winter season.

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In the woods watching the sunrise. December 2015

We’ve had a few cold nights; hard freezes with temperatures near 22 degrees fahrenheit.  But once the sun came out it quickly warmed and even I found myself outside without a jacket.  Most of the plants in the garden have gone dormant, preparing for the cold of winter, but many are exhibiting behavior more aligned with spring.

We have two varieties of camellia.   One blooms in the fall and one in the spring.  The buds on the spring blooming camellias usually open in April or May.  Buds are already swelling and some have opened.  It worries me.  But then I can’t help but smile.  What a beautiful flower.  How can I see this and not smile.

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A spring blooming camellia. December 2015

This year marks the first I’ve grown calendula and the plants struggled during the heat and humidity of our summer.   They looked like they were barely clinging to life.  This fall a transformation took place.  With steady rain, and less heat and humidity, the plants seemed to burst forth with life.  They bushed out and are covered with beautiful flowers.  They continue to bloom even with morning temperatures below freezing.

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Calendula. December 18, 2015

While the strangeness of the season confuses me I have found that life is markedly resilient.  ‘Dixie Cup’ is an 11 year old japanese maple that I brought home as a seedling.  She was in a group of  volunteer seedlings growing on the side of a campus building.  The grounds crew was attacking them with string trimmers when I asked if I could get one.  I had a paper cup with iced tea in my hand.  It quickly became the pot I used to carry her home.  Hence the name ‘Dixie Cup’.

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Bird nest in Japanese Maple. December 2015

I thought she would die more than once.  3 years ago she was almost totally girdled and all the branches on one side died.  Dixie cup still lives, no she thrives and provides shelter to numerous other creatures.

The seasons and changes in weather patterns may confuse us.  They may cause us alarm.  But of one thing I am certain, life will go on.  It may not be as we know it but the sun will continue to rise and life will go on.

Happy Winter Solstice.
22 December 2015.

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