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  • Writer's pictureWILLIAM HAZEL

Winter Solstice - Sharing the Shortest Day

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

It is the solstice and Winter enters with expected calm. And my neck is sometimes stiff from tilting my face towards the southern sun. In another of my Virginia Decembers, my fifteenth, and the decade plus half already feigns melancholic. I am, though, always without longing for the Pennsylvania snow.

Solstice: the Latin of sol and sistere. To stand still. The solstice in this part of Virginia is a time of the last of the leaves falling, even in absence of gale. Their crunch underfoot sounds always familiar and brings thought to the life and death of seasons. I do not wish to live in a place of no life or death. I remember those years in Florida, where these simple cycles of existence never cycled. The seasons always feeling same, neither spring nor summer, but of only heat and insects.

And lines. This time brings my mind to lines.

The perfect line that separates the autumn from the winter. The line of the beach against the sea. The line that each day commands the day to become the night. We are living within these lines together. Living within these definitions. Maybe we should speak more about this. Our conversations too often of the blurred. I accept and welcome the magnificence, the serendipity of the places without lines. Of love, of need for love. Of hope, of anticipation, want and need. We all wander in the blurred. But today we share a clear line of change, and my immediate desire is to celebrate our same. Our shortest day.

And the chaos that is Christmas invades every place of quiet.

We share this, too. Front yard landscapes inflated and constantly blinking. We put white light candles in the windows and by neighborhood comparison seems more mute than humble. The corner houses are in competition and decoration becomes rivalrous desecration. There is no dark place to rest on cold earth and look at stars.

The jessamine began offering flowers. Small. Simple. Beautiful yellow flowers in the yellow of the solstice sun.

The redtail hawk came to visit, resting on the front fence corner. We have lived in her territory for years and she visits often. She watched M bring the groceries through several trips from the car into the house. Sitting comfortably still, following with curious eyes. We don’t name her. She is Hawk. We’ll shoo her if the wrens or robins are feeding. And there is a squirrel who comes to forage the fence edges. And the Cottontail. The clover remains plentiful and I am careful to keep the mower set high for her feasting. Bunny lived within the backyard tropical garden this summer, though she moved into burrow behind our property line for winter.

Hawk and Bunny are aware of each other and sometimes we fear for Bunny. But this is part of the cycle of seasons. The clear line of life and death. We should talk more of these clear lines we share, I think.

It is the solstice and Winter enters with expected calm. And my neck is sometimes stiff from tilting my face towards the southern sun.

© Copyright William Hazel, 2022

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