Tag Archives: Winter

A Foggy Start

There’s something about being wrapped in a blanket of fog up here on my hill that makes me feel warm and cozy on an early January morning. I hope y’all have a Happy New Year!

~Honeybee

Old Saturday Memories

I went out a while ago to do my Saturday chores.  It’s a cold rainy day, fog and clouds down low on the mountains, and I was hit with a memory from my teenage years.

There were many cold Saturdays like this, colder and more often, it seems.  Sometimes I would take a real nap for a couple of hours in the afternoon, in the bed or on the carpeted living room floor, covered with a cozy blanket or comforter.   My mom would make spaghetti or meat loaf or chili for supper, and we always had dessert, homemade chocolate pie or maybe banana pudding.  Then my mom, dad, and I would go up to Western (that is, Western Carolina University) to Reid Gym to watch the Catamounts play basketball.  It would be crowded and so hot and loud, kind of crazy sometimes, but exhilarating.

Afterwards, we’d have to walk back to the car and I’d be freezing.  By the time the chill wore off the car, we’d be home, go inside where it was warm, put on the pj’s, and have another piece of that pie.  My mom would say my dad and I rehashed the game too much.

Such sweet and cozy memories….a lifetime ago.

~Honeybee

Winter and the Faith of a Pantheist

A lot of people feel depressed during the winter. It’s colder. It’s darker. Other than the holiday gatherings, it can be a bit dreary. I used to feel that way myself. It was like I was refusing to see the special beauty this season brings.

Riding over to a nearby town during winter, I’m struck by the dull palette of grays and browns, but especially by the nakedness…trees bare of leaves. It’s like living in a house with no curtains, letting the whole world look in, seeing things normally hidden away, including the imperfections that summer’s greenery hides. Some of what I see is frankly not pretty, bare bones and bleak, even dirty, but other things come as a surprise. “I didn’t know that was there!” or “I’d never seen that before.” It can be eye opening, pleasant, if sometimes uncomfortable. Someone, though, also reminded me once that those bare trees make a lovely pattern against a winter sky or sunset, like old lace, and so I began to look at winter differently.

Yet, even as the calendar still says autumn while the days are seeming to feel like winter with the occasional flurry of snow, morning frost on the car, a cold wind blowing, I’m reminded that every season is beautiful in its own way and has the ability to surprise me. One of these gifts comes in the form of my “Thanksgiving cactus.” I think it was supposed to be a Christmas cactus, maybe even an Easter one, but in its own determined way, it has for the last couple of years decided its time to amaze me is in late fall/early winter. I follow its gestation daily from the first sighting of tiny barely-there buds to its full-term burst of bright color that really delights me. It’s my daily symbol of faith, hope, tenacity, Nature, and simple loveliness, and it reminds me that ordinary life is quite extraordinary if we’ll just look and appreciate it. This bright flower perfectly represents the faith I have as a pantheist…not in some godly figure in the sky saving me from eternal torment, or ancient holy books, but in the seasons and rhythms of nature itself. Those seasons will come and go, trees will flower and fade and flower again, and eventually I’ll die, too, but will still and always be part of Nature in a different form. I trust Nature to continue its cycles of birth, growth, and death in so many beautiful, and to be fair, sometimes not so beautiful, ways.

I’m grateful for winter. It gives us time to rest, plan and remember, snuggle and nest, celebrate with family, enjoy its birds and plants with bright red berries, appreciate the darkest of skies full of a million stars, and experience the welcome and extraordinary quietness of snow days. It prepares us for the next season of spring and all that it brings in its pastel and noisy baby-animal, bud-popping fashion.

Winter Haiku

Sparkling raindrops drip
From icy pear tree branches,
Jewels on nature’s arms.

There’s something special and dear about seeing the passing landscape in all its glory, ugly, beautiful, familiar, surprising, but most importantly, authentic. Just like with us humans…we know someone best and feel deepest, I think, when we see beyond the outer person, all made up and dressed in their finery, on their best behavior, when we’re allowed in to see the real depths of who they are. Perhaps it’s my own nakedness as well, not necessarily physically, but emotionally, psychologically, my vulnerability (including questioning the quality, value, and contributions throughout the seasons of my own life) that winter’s stripped-down beauty also reminds me of. As I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser, I’ve become more comfortable and happy with both of us.

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” (Henry David Thoreau)

~Honeybee

(Originally published in Pantheist Vision)

Looking Forward to Winter Solstice

I’m a pantheist living in North Carolina. There’s something special about winter solstice, that time on December 21st that marks the longest night, the shortest day, when the sun’s daily maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest, before each day starts to get incrementally longer with a tiny bit more sunshine daily as we head into spring. Winter Solstice is all about light. I could write facts about the solstice, but I prefer to tell you how it makes me feel. For me, winter solstice is intimately intertwined with Christmas. As many of us know, much of what we love and celebrate at Christmas was actually borrowed from more ancient pagan solstice celebrations. As Christianity spread and grew, a date near the Solstice was deliberately chosen for Christmas, the birthday of Jesus, and its play on words, from rebirth of the “sun” to birth of the “son,” as people were already used to celebrating the birth of a sun god at this time.

As a little girl, long before I had heard of winter solstice, my favorite part of the winter holiday season was the Christmas lights; multicolored lights strung on rooftops and trees and storefronts, or the white twinkling ones. My parents and I rode around at night through various neighborhoods to look at them. There was something comforting and cozy about seeing pine trees full of twinkling lights standing in front of living room windows. I still feel that way today, as we hunker down a little more in our homes because it’s dark at 5:30 in the evening now. Families welcome this special time of year by spending time together in front of fireplaces giving light and warmth. The holiday lights and flickering candles hearken back to the Solstice celebration that dates back to the earliest times of civilization and our ancient ancestors, as we, too, celebrate the sun coming back with feasting and families.

Some pantheists avoid any religious traditions, while others embrace or redefine them, but whether you celebrate Solstice or Christmas or Yule, or some combination, whatever you may call it, whether it’s strictly a natural occurrence or also a more symbolic one, I know that people everywhere are also celebrating it in their unique ways. Maybe it’s a special meal or a tree or other greenery or a moonlight hike complete with hot drinks and good company, gift giving, or a big bonfire. It’s the one time of year when people all over the world celebrate at the same time, connecting us to each other and our present world, as well as to our own families and childhood memories. It links us to the ancients, who may not have understood the science behind what was happening, but certainly recognized the pattern in relation to their crops and animals and food supply, and, lastly, to nature itself, that which I find so worthy of awe. This time of year fills people with some measure of hope and love, good will and merriment. There’s really nothing else quite like the time of winter solstice.

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We welcome another season that nature gifts us year after year with predictability and its own special beauty. Every season has its blessings, but to me, there’s just something special about the light of winter solstice, the return of the sun, and the brilliance of winter skies full of thousands upon thousands of twinkling stars that no human effort, no matter how great or how enjoyable and lovely, can truly compare to, and the feelings such lights evoke. I feel special and insignificant at the same time, connected to all that has been, is, and will be. I wish for you a happy winter solstice, a warm and light-filled celebration full of hope and expectation.

~Honeybee

(originally published in Pantheist Vision)