This morning we bundled up early and drove to Dimond Hill Farm to watch the sun rise. It was cold, but totally worth it to see the bright light gather on the horizon and slowly rise up into the sky. My kids were amazed at how big the sun looks when it is near the horizon and loved watching the clouds change color. And they loved coming home to drink hot chocolate and warm up afterward.
Yesterday was the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year), which means this morning is kind of like the sun’s rebirth-day. Since the earliest cave paintings, the sun has held an important place in human spirituality and culture. Watching the days grow incrementally longer was a reason to rejoice at a time when one couldn’t get fresh fruit in the winter or crank up the heated seats in the car. The winter solstice was a time to appreciate the promise of warmer days to come. Modern humans would be wise to remember we are not above this cycle of birth and rebirth and that appreciating the turning of the year is not below us.
Am I suggesting we return to the pagan traditions that dominated the world for much of our history? Not necessarily. But I do believe that understanding, honoring, and celebrating the changes in the seasons helps modern humans to realize how much our lives depend on our planet and, therefore, how important it is for us to protect it. And living within the seasons – keeping your heat low in the winter and your AC off in the summer as well as eating seasonally and staying local – is a greener, slower, healthier, and more natural path. It helps us see the daily changes in our little corner of the world and enjoy each season as it comes.
My children are out building a snowman… Tomorrow we will bring in our living Christmas tree to decorate and enjoy… I still have some butternut squash from the garden I will roast for dinner… This is winter in New Hampshire. Enjoy! And don’t worry if you missed the sunrise this morning – you can always catch it tomorrow!
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about how living with the seasons can help us through difficult times (like now), try this popular new book. My good friend, who owns a lovely bookstore on the Cape, recommends it highly.