“Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung! Of Jesse’s lineage coming as seers of old have sung.” — Isaiah 11:1*
May you know peace and hope during this season of Light.
*(“Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” , Speyer Gesangbuch, 1599. Translated by Theodore Baker in 1894.)
It hasn’t seemed like winter this December; more like a mild November with moody skies, soaking rains and even a few thunderstorms. What little snow fell, melted into the unfrozen ground. But the sun tells the truth as it rides low on the southern horizon. I always look at winter solstice (10:48 p.m. CST on December 21) as a milestone achieved: We’ve reached the time of peak darkness for the winter. And happily, though sunrise is still getting later, sunset began to lengthen on December 10th! We celebrate solstice with extra candles on the dinner table, a glass of wine, and Celtic Christmas music.
I look for the understated, sometimes harsh beauty of winter, and I like the extra hours of moon-watching. Yet, I impatiently wait for the seeds, bulbs, perennials and tiny creatures that rest in the dark earth to reawaken. In the meantime, I will try to appreciate the slate skies and spent plants that add their own stark loveliness to the winter months.
The mid-December moon is often visible during the day.
Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium dubium) seedheads.
Flame grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘purpurascens’) seed heads and leaves.
Fluffy, soft goldenrod (Solidago) seeds.
A few seeds still cling to the soft, empty cup of a milkweed pod (Aesclepias syriaca).