The shortest day, the longest night

Sunset last night, as the clouds moved in.

The Winter Solstice is always much-anticipated, not that in reality it seems much different from the days just prior and afterwards. It’s the message that counts, like turning the page on a calendar, or opening the first page of a new, blank journal to begin writing. It’s the KNOWING that this is a beginning, the first step toward spring. Yes, there’s a long winter still ahead, but knowing that the days truly are getting longer from now on is so very comforting. And don’t we all need a bit of comfort wherever we can find it these days?

Yesterday was a tiring day, but special as well. I was off early on the over-an-hour drive to take my mother for her annual hearing test. We might have postponed it since it was just announced that Indiana is now the 4th worst state to visit or be in virus-wise, but we both recognized that her hearing has worsened recently, so it was likely her hearing aid needed to be adjusted. We were the only people in the entire office other than the audiologist, who seemed to be constantly wiping everything, so I think it was a safe environment.

Lunch was our “Christmas” meal together for this year. It is strange not to have a family gathering, but it was certainly better than nothing. We had lasagna which was Mother’s choice! She’d never eaten it before, but she’d seen it on tv so we made two small loaf pans and put one in the freezer for later. It was such a hit that she wants to make two more pans next month. Even at 95, she still surprises me. We also had fruit that she had canned this summer, and the mince pies I made on Sunday.

Mince pies from my grandmother’s recipe.

While she rested, I ran to the grocery and got a few essentials for her and when I got back we had a cup of tea and chatted while I read some bills and mail that has print too small for her to read. No hugs, no kisses, and social distancing and hand-washing throughout the day, but at least we could be together. I left her “official” meal for Christmas Day in her refrigerator, so she won’t have to cook at all (roast chicken with cranberry sauce, cous-cous with peas and fresh mint, and Christmas cookies and more mince pies.) Long drive home, but the sunset (photo at the top) when I pulled into the driveway was lovely. A bit later, I looked out and the colors had changed dramatically.

Magical how all those blues and purples developed!

It was a lovely ending to a long day. I’d hoped to see the planets aligned, but the clouds moved in thickly on strong, whistling winds. Today is gray and dreary, but calm. I’m going to go to the potager to dig some parsnips and carrots, and pull some leeks and turnips. Oh! I nearly forgot to mention that the first amaryllis bulb has buds beginning to open! It’s yet another reminder to look for, and enjoy the beauty that is all around us…in the sunset, the planets and stars, the luscious veggies, pretty bulbs, and most of all, the wonderful people in our lives.

The amaryllis in the center was the first planted, on Nov. 8th

The Winter Solstice has always been considered a day of magic, a day for hope. May you find comfort in this day, and in the lengthening days to come.


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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8 Responses to The shortest day, the longest night

  1. What spectacular sunset!!!


  2. Going Batty in Wales says:

    Wise words Carolee. With so many things off limits at the moment it feels really important to focus on small joys. I am glad you got to see your Mother and I hope I am as adventurous when I am 95! I have my seeds and there are signs of bulbs in the garden so the New Year will come and the days lengthen. We just have to make the best of it. Enjoy the rest of the Festive season.


  3. Happy winter solstice! Lovely photos and it sounds like a lovely time with your mom as well ☀️


  4. Thank you for the lovely post and sunset photos. My mom is also 95, but we are on opposite sides of the country this year. She lives in a retirement community and says she is “incarcerated”. My brother gently corrects her, “Mom, it’s lockdown.” She doesn’t see much difference, as she can only have one visitor, cannot go out except for medical appointments, and must dine alone. I sent her some gingerbread men, and would have liked to be there in person. It was a long drive for you, but so worth it to be with your mother.


    • carolee says:

      Mother is truly a blessing, still filled with wisdom and stories. I think we are all feeling incarcerated these days, or at least under house arrest and the elderly feel it even more, as most of them (like my mother) have no Zoom or smart phones for virtual visiting. Bet your mother loved the gingerbread men!


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