Friday, December 19, 2008

The Shortest Day of The Year

Merry Christmas!!! Happy Holidays from Our Simple Life. I can't believe I just hit the 1,000 mark on my site meter. One very small step for woman kind, but a big step for me. However, my real thoughts today are about the shortest day of the year which occurs on the 21st of December this year.

The winter solstice is an important benchmark in my yearly calendar. It represents the true end of the year for me since each day following gets just a little bit longer in my part of the world. Because biology is the driving force in my life, the swing in daylight's pendulum from dark to light is a joyful, hopeful and significant event. Historically and in other cultures the winter solstice brought with it festivals and pagan celebrations which have been abandoned by the modern world. I must be from ancient stock since I can't help but feel the change with a certain privative eagerness.

The darking window that winter draws down upon the northern hemisphere, cloaks us from the sun's rays, and after the solstice, the blinds get pulled back just a little wider; and each successive day brings with it a few more moments of daylight. So the biological rhythm reverses itself, it can not be stopped; and I crawl slowly from the trenches of the long winter nights into the new year with the knowledge that spring is just around the corner. I almost feel like a Dorthy in Oz with a golden road opening up in front of me since longer days mean more outside time and necessitate planning for the year ahead.

Even though the cold weather remains dominant, the increasing daylight triggers miniature signals throughout my little universe. I have my own little party to observe the changes. Just the slight incremental increase in day length means that the plants will start to grow differently. The little buds nestled in the axils of our orchard trees shine with burgundy red pigments which allow them to process winter sun light. The buds are ticking inside, they are miniature time bombs waiting to explode with new life. They think of new growth, long reaching branches, and the production of hundreds of flowers. All across our property, the two inch tall grass seedlings are sprouted this time of year; and they are poised and ready to bolt upward to the sky. The annual grasses must hurry up and propagate in just one season, but they always find a way to finish their life cycle.

The animals have been affected by the shorter days too. The chickens have been slowly decreasing their egg production for the past three months and we have gone from about 10 or 11 eggs a day to a meager 3 or 4. We finally broke down and put a light in their coop to stimulate their bodies and trick their biological clocks into making more eggs. Now that we have put them under the lamp and the sun will be out longer we should start seeing a few more presents from the hens in another month, I hope...

My horses internal sensors will tell their bodies in a another six weeks to shed their winter coats and eject their long dulling hairs for short, shiny, and sleek replacements. I start to think about the show season for the following year and actually look at the schedule to see if I can fit in a few competitions. My goal for 2009 is to earn my bronze medal in dressage through the United States Dressage Federation (USDF). In short, a rider must achieve qualifying scores up through 3rd level and I have scores from Training Level, 1st, 2nd and 3rd levels and only need one more score to earn my "medal." This will really represent about eight years of riding for me since after having my kids, my show schedule was dramatically altered...but to complete this goal is important none the less.

Reflecting on the last year I realize that I have seen a little girl go from barely saying 10 words to speaking in sentences. The new year will bring her birthday and I will be saying "Ella is 2 now." Then a boisterous boy has gone from recognizing the alphabet to reading dozens of words. It won't be long until he will be reading EVERYTHING. The quickness in which Wyatt has picked up reading makes me think that sometimes you are really not ready for those things that you wish. And another year has passed struggling through the tough economy, who's direction could go either way in the year to come.

As the gate to longer days opens and the sun moves to a higher place in the sky each and every day, my goals are to stay positive, pay it forward, be kind to those people around me, and take care of myself. The longest day of the year will be in about six months and I will be reevaluating at that time too. It's biological, I can't stop it...


Mountain Woman said...

What a beautifully written post. You put into words my feelings too on what just one minute more of daylight means. Here, it is dark by 4:00 p.m. every day and the horses won't start shedding their winter coats until April nor will they see grass until then if they are lucky but still the days will grow longer and our spirits will soar.
I'm so thrilled by your plans for a medal in dressage. I have often thought of dressage as a beautiful dance between horse and rider where communication is key and the relationship paramount. If you ride for a medal, I'd love to watch.
Watching your baby girl grow too must bring you great joy.
I'm so thankful I found your blog and I'm learning more about you and your corner of the world.
Have a wonderful holiday.

Michelle said...

Wonderful post. I love when the days finally start to get longer. Even if it's only a little bit at a time. In the winter months I always feel like a hibernating bear. LOL!! Thanks so much for your kinds words of encouragement regarding my daughters eye surgery. Keeping our fingers crossed and trying to stay positive. Thanks again.

Yaya said...

Great post!

Hope you get your 'medal'!

ga.farmwoman said...

I am positive you will reach all your goals for the new year,including your medal.
Children do grow so fast. Too fast.
I was just thinking the same thoughts on the shortest day of the year and how starting now the days will gradually get longer again.
I can't wait until spring and garden time.
Guess what? We just added 2 baby goats to the farm! Big girl Bertha just gave birth to 2 beautiful babies!
Have a great day.

Life Ramblings said...

We celebrate this day to usher the upcoming chinese new year. This day reminds me to appreciate and celebrate the harmony and happiness in family.

happy solstice and merry christmas!

EL said...

Funny you post about this. Just yesterday when i was writing on the calendar that Abram turned 7 months yesterday, i told husband - and today was winter solstice - what exactly is that again? So - fabulous timing:) I TOO look forward to more daylight! I don't mind winter really but hate darkness arriving by 5pm! makes my days too short...

AMH615 said...

You have a beautiful way of putting things into words. Once December hits, this is the day I look forward to, because I know days will start to get longer. I hate the darkness, and welcome spring.. it's just around the corner now!

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