The Winter Solstice passed today at 10:35 a.m. here in Ory-gun, marking the shortest day and longest night of the year.
I celebrated by baking bread with my dear friend, Amanda, an annual tradition we began in honor of her father. He had been the bread baker in her family, and when he passed three years ago, she decided that it was her turn to put on the baker’s apron, to measure flour and salt and yeast, to learn to knead and work with and talk to the dough. We made cinnamon rolls today—they turned out great. Even more important, it gave me a chance to slow down and spend the afternoon with my friend.
However you pass the Solstice, pause for a least a moment and give thought to the inexorable turning of the great seasonal wheel…one thing after another, everything happening as it should, or as it must. Remember, too, that the Solstice is all about the light, symbolizing the lengthening of days and the return of the sun. We’ll be leaving our outdoor lights on all night tonight in tribute. (The GG Tree is happy!)
This brings to mind another of my favorite holiday TV episodes: Northern Exposure, episode 4.18: “Northern Lights.” Amanda and I watched it today, while our bread dough was rising. Here is Chris’ speech, given to his fellow Cicelians as he unveils his sculptural work of light on the night of the Solstice.
“Goethe's final words: ‘More light.’ Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime, that's been our unifying cry: More light.’ Sunlight. Torchlight. Candlelight. Neon. Incandescent. Lights that banish the darkness from our caves, illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the night games at Soldier's field. Little tiny flashlights for those books we read under the covers when we're supposed to be asleep. Light is more than watts and foot-candles. Light is metaphor.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Arise, shine, for thy light has come.
Light is knowledge. Light is life. Light is light.”