Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice: The Shortest Day

The wind wailed and howled throughout the long dark hours.
Never a sound sleeper, I'm made still more restless on a windy night.
At midnight I was wondering if the potted rosemarys on the front porch would be knocked over--but I couldn't make myself get up, put on slippers and a robe to shuffle out to the door and turn on the light.  I snuggled more deeply into the quilt and tried to conjure soothing thoughts.
From somewhere in the house--a crash--as of something toppled.
I sat up in bed and listened, but all was again silent except for the whining wind.
I slept at last, fitfully, waking to the dawn greyness.
Tip-toeing to the living room [with the usual accompaniment of cats] I pulled back the curtains.
Along the edges of the front walk there were thin traces of snow as though a cold blast had moved quickly through the evening's rain.
Bundled up and outside I had a look at the battered old thermometer mounted in the carport.
The red arrow hovered over the freezing mark: 32 F.
Wind sang in my ears and tickled icy fingers down my neck in spite of the down vest snapped up tight.
Litter boxes attended to, I pulled the camera from my pocket, aimed it at the glow of the sun as it climbed above the creek.
Pebbles stood near the barn, trumpeting a greeting, her tail streaming in the wind.
I measured out her grain, observed that she had flung her hay in an untidy heap.
Back inside, cheeks stinging from the cold, I trudged down to the basement to finish the litter box duties and start a load of laundry.
There I discovered the source of the midnight crash--a large begonia had been knocked from the edge of the table under the flourescent lights.
Kitten doings!

The wood that lies beyond our western boundary fence is not an attractive one.
Underbrush of hollies and vines has not been trimmed, fallen trees lie in mouldering skeletal tangles.
Over head this morning was a continual throbbing hum as the wind tormented the towering cedars and clashed through bare branches of oak and maple.

Often as I walk up the back meadow deer or wild turkeys melt into the shadows of the wood.
This morning there was not a creature to be seen or heard.

Pebbles watches as I walk down to the mailbox at noon.
The sun does little to counteract the chill of the wind, but it creates a lovely pattern of light on the winter landscape.

Looking to the southwest at noon.

J. fits some sashing around the garage door to keep the draughts out of his workshop.
Smoke from his woodstove hangs in a haze over the roof.

On the front porch Bobby McGee rests after the wind-inspired exercise of racing about the yard
with his brothers.

It is too cold to leave the sliding door opened even a few inches for the cats.
Nellie signals his wish to come in by thumping on the glass with his paws and waiting for the obedient cat butler to appear.

I took the camera outdoors again at 3:30 for a final documentation of this solstice day--the day my Dad would have referred to as the first day of winter.
In New England where I spent most of my life winter was just getting serious by mid-December with weeks of cold and snow yet to endure.
Although full dark would not arrive until a bit after 5, the sun
was making its departure, leaving the dooryard and barns in the grip of the longest night of the year.

In the kitchen I pulled loaves from the oven.
Pumpkin apple bread on the left.
I had punched down the dough for the herbed white bread [made with unbleached flour--always!] when I realizd that G. hadn't returned my bread pans, borrowed as she baked ahead for the holidays.
The dough which should have gone into three loaf pans had to make do with two glass casserole dishes.
We ate our supper by the fire--romaine lettuce with cucumber and tomato; chicken salad on thick slices of the still-warm herbed bread.
J. has brought in extra wood for the fire.
The cats are calm
An orange half-moon glows in the clear cold darkness of the winter sky and the wind has dropped.
Perhaps tonight we will sleep!


  1. blessings of the solstice sharon!

    your bread looks delicious, as is that last photyo of the cat-brothers... made me smile!

    Leanne x

    1. Leanne; The herb bread I can vouch for--eaten at a friend's home with pasta and salad. I didn't get a slice of the pumpkin bread--I'll have to make that again.
      The cat brothers--all three--are good for many a smile--and a few exclaimations of 'Oh, NO!"

  2. Trust you did manage to sleep:) That was a lovely description of your day.

    1. Rowan; Sleep for me is always variable in quality and quantity--but at least the wind died down and the night was still. No cat thumps at midnight!

  3. Your last photo is absolutely gorgeous, did it end in spat I wonder. Ours start all lovingly licking each other and then one or the other will decide its enough an lash out. lol

    1. Briony; How well you know the catly nature! Seconds after that photo there was a tussle!

  4. Although you describe (perfectly) a windy, rough day, everything projects peace and calm. Your supper by the fire sounds so good.

    1. Lillian; Supper by the fire was a lovely respite from several really busy days--we should do it more often!

  5. It sounds like you had a wild and woolly night to follow the wild and woolly day!

    Lovely photos of the boys (especially the one of them cuddling).

    The bread will have tasted good despite the lack of proper bread tins.

    Wishing you and J a wonderful Christmas, with your family, and I shall think of you all when we sit down to our meal.

    Here's to continuing friendship in 2013.

    1. Jennie; How I would love to pop in for tea with you--or have you here to sit by the fire! Long distance friendships have greatly enhanced my days.
      Funny to think you'll be sitting down to your festive meal while we are just starting our Christmas day.

  6. Winter has finally arrived here too, your bread looks delicious, I can almost smell it. Stay warm and have a Merry Christmas.

    1. Janet; Have a lovely holiday with your daughter--and in case I didn't mention it on your post--I appreciate that your cat has been so helpful with the gift-wrapping!

  7. Sounds like a very comfortable and relaxing day, even though you did work -- but it all sounds so warm and comfy. The two cats are lovely. They look identical except for their shade of black or grey. For a while I wasn't sure if there were two cats or if it was just the camera exposure. Have a blessed Christmas.

    1. Chris; Those two boys are long-haired and similar in their markings--the third boy, Edward, has sleek short hair--they are so funny and full of personality.
      The living-room is indeed cozy, thanks to J.'s diligence with the wood supply.

  8. Barbee; I'm glad you enjoyed the tale of our day. I think your weather must be very similar--maybe a stronger chance of snow ?

  9. I always enjoy reading about your day. Our little visitor, Ruby, is Audrey's sister. I fostered their mother and the three kittens for our local animal shelter last year and my daughter adopted Ruby. Nigel went to another home and we kept the mom, Annie and Audrey. They do look alike. They are having a great time here right now. Lots of action. I'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas. Hugs, Deb

  10. As enjoyable as ever MM.

    Hope you, J and the family have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    See you again in 2013!

  11. Thoroughly enjoyed that read, there was a tranquility to a day well spent. Merry Christmas to you and your family, and may we all go on blogging happily next year X