The wick of the candle pulses in the dim light. I can feel the heat from the woodstove on my legs and the left side of my face. I sip a glass of red wine. The only sounds are the tick of the oven heating up for dinner and one of the dogs chewing on a bone.
For the past few years Jon and I have spent the Solstice eating dinner outside around a bonfire in the barnyard. The sheep and donkeys keep their distance, but the dogs find a spot under our chairs, keeping us company.
From prep to leaving Jon’s surgery took longer than either of us expected. We left the house at 8:30 and got home at 4:30.
As we drove up to the house on the way home, we could both see that the snow had slid off the solar panels and the back porch roof. There was so much snow on the roof, we knew I’d have to shovel a path before we could get into the house.
I wanted Jon to wait in the car, but he stood watching me, regretting he couldn’t help as I cleared a small path in the heavily packed snow that was three feet at its highest.
After letting the dogs out and feeding all the animals, I went back to the pile of snow on the back porch to finish off what I started.
By that time the waxing moon was a bright light behind the delicate branches at the top of the old birch. We wouldn’t welcome in the shortest day of the year with a bonfire, but I did get to savor the early and gradual loss of light and watch as the fog softened the landscape around me.
It was warm enough for me to leave my coat in the house and shovel in a hat, scarf, sweater, and gloves. I broke the pile of snow into big chunks and tossed them onto snow that was there from the last time I shoveled when the snow first fell.
The sheep and donkeys are chewing on the branches that we’d usually have been burning tonight. It will give them something to do until the snow melts and they can graze again.
Suzy texted me, wondering if the sky was clear enough for me to see Jupiter and Saturn. It’s a warm and foggy night where she is in Pennsylvania too. “I’ve been watching them, so I don’t feel like I’ve completely missed out,” she wrote.
Fate ran back and forth from the pasture gate to me, hoping I was going back to the sheep and Zinnia ran through the snow, just becasue.
In a while Jon and I will eat dinner by the warmth of the woodstove and light of the candles instead of a bonfire. And tomorrow the days will start getting longer again.
6 thoughts on “This Winter Solstice”
A gorgeous memory so well captured by your writing. You will be glad you took the time to savor this night with words. Thank you for sharing this Maria. I’ve been so enjoying your blog posts this past week. Happy Winter Solstice
Thank you Donna for being there and letting me know.
You are my Hero(ine). And I suspect it was *not* warm enough to leave your coat in the house; you were generating enough energy shoveling 3 feet of snow that you could have powered those solar panels all by yourself.
I’ve been thinking of you because during one of my last winters in Philadelphia before I moved out West we got about 36 inches of snow in one day. The City had the sanitation crews load the snow into dump trucks because there was no place to shovel it to. And then the dump trucks headed to the bridge over the Schuylkill River and dumped the snow into the river. So much snow that it looked like a ski slope from the bridge down to the river. And then the EPA shut down that operation. But it was epic!
I’m sure you’re right Jill, but it had been below zero the morning before so above freezing did feel pretty warm. 🙂 I can just picture the trucks in Piladelphia. This morning, They were moving snow in our small town in a similar way, without the river. Jon could have watched it for hours.
Oh that magical moon! Missed it at first because my eye was focused on Fate. And yes it feels “warm” when it is just above freezing after having been below zero. Heavy rain forecast Thursday night into Friday so there will be a lot of snow melt, there is a flood alert. Southern Vermont gets its weather forecast out of Albany too, we just get the weather later than you.
And the weather can be so different from here to there Sharon. Even from our town to the next. The animals will appreciate the melt.