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The longest night of the year has passed, and this morning we can slowly, gradually begin looking forward to more light. In Michigan, it was a soggy solstice.

016I was writing about snow, but the weather mocked me with cold rain melting and pitting the pristine white blanket. Then, after a day of rain, many of the plants decided to drop their leaves on the snow, especially in the front yard. Compared to some neighbors, my house looks really sloppy. Thank you, Norway maple-and why do you still have leaves? You, the roses, the quercifola, so many perennials; why do you guys still have leaves? We’ve had freezing weather for days, something like five or seven inches of snow, and now you’re just finishing your deciduous denuding? How very odd you all are.

In truth I’m not too worried about the decrepit look of the garden this year, because some of this mess is intentional. I did less “clean-up” this year in hopes of hatching more butterflies in the spring. The challenge will be resisting the urge to tidy up until after all the little fellows hatch. That won’t be until mid to early May. I’m not sure I won’t go on a chopping spree before then.

014Although this year’s winter solstice was soggy and tattered outdoors, inside it was warm and full of life, happiness, and growth. Winter solstice is a time to grow roots, so the outward appearance of things does not really matter. Under the ground, all is well. Inside the home, all is well. My current family is full of love, although we miss those we’ve lost in the past few years.

Losses are more poignant during times of introspection. Perhaps that’s why in the U.S. our culture says to move outward, ignore your time for growing roots, and avoid all pain by shopping and going to parties during the winter solstice. I’ve mostly opted out of such behavior, because I try to live in some accord with the natural cycles of the earth. I’m not sure how other people heal themselves if they never feel their pain or stop moving long enough to form the underground network of roots and filaments that holds their sanity fast in the face of adversity. How do you grow roots if you’re always moving?


Soggy though it is, our holiday time will be slower than our everyday schedules demand. We’ll stay home more, be together more, and dig deeper into the ground of our lives. The garden may look like a disaster outwardly, but the invisible work taking place beneath the soil will bring about regeneration. In the spring, we’ll be stronger, wiser, and ready to start over again.