I came across the paragraph below in an article from a year ago. I saved it because, at this time of year, I feel exactly like any of my friends above. It reads:
The winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this is a period of descent and rest, of going within our homes, within ourselves, and taking in all that we have been through, all that has passed in this full year which is coming to a close… like nature and the animal kingdom around us, this time of hibernation is so necessary for our tired limbs, our burdened minds.
Once again, the tail end of December is here, and it reminds me of a blog I posted a year ago on my personal website. I would like to repost with a bit of revision.
December achingly and brightly slides away, I nest into my usual non-quintessential self, retreat and withdraw inside my home, my studio, my sunlight, and my soul. Up until last December, I worked at the University of Arizona for thirty-three years and each year the ‘U of A’ closes its doors before Christmas and reopens after the new year.
During those early winter breaks, I found myself diving into projects such as closet cleaning, drawer rearranging, trying new recipes and revisiting old family holiday favorites, pushing or pulling big items of furniture to clean under and behind, organizing garage shelves, catching photo albums and scrapbooks up to date. In the last several years I began to notice a shift, the need to retreat for reflection and respite. Over time, my secular job allowed me to work fewer hours during the week leaving me much more time at home, and with Covid, more days than not. Then and since retirement a year ago, the above-mentioned tasks are done before the winter solstice is upon me. I find ways to sleep in, roll under the covers, and wait for the sun to spread across the room and onto the walls, waving a warm welcome not expecting me to reply in the least. During this year my husband and I began to stay up late, watching British shows, and favorite movies, a cat purring beside me in front of a warm fireplace. No reason, no thought, no malfunction, it’s just that I can.
I continue to keep the expected daily duties in check and spend more time outside with my two cats as we walk together and pace through the gardens and around the yard. Inside, floors are clean, pillows fluffed, fuzzy little lap throws refolded, and an extra cup of coffee in the carafe. No hurry. I imagine the bears and foxes snug in their dens, tails or paws curled and wrapped up to their noses. I stretch, do up a few dishes, enter my sunny studio and my eyes filter over the small table of alcohol inks, watercolors, paintbrushes, a writing journal, or a stack of books, and decide which to do first.
Monday, my husband turned another year older as I did earlier this month. This year truly brought changes for both of us due to the aging process and existing health issues that keep clawing away at our daily life. Now we are kept more on our toes and my sunny plans as mentioned sometimes have to wait a bit longer. As each new year is ready to begin, I am still ready to begin with the new month of January no matter what state I may find myself in. I am determined to be more in control of a schedule to help stay borderline and now focus on shorter distances rather than longer ones.
Like the earth and its companions, I take time to go inwards, to reset my clock, to revamp my spiritual self. Patrice Vecchione in her book Step In To Nature states “Time alone is the best way for imagination’s generative knowledge to become securely imprinted in the very sinew of self.” For me, I acknowledge a fresh year will arrive and am prepared to greet it like a new seed pushing through the soil, ready to climb and give back in whatever fashion I am capable of. Earth’s cycle I can count on for my renewal of self, find relief from burdens, and reach out for the gifts and promises to come.