The Winter Solstice is approaching tomorrow. With it, as my dear friend Asa likes to remind me, comes the longest night of the year. He snapped this candid photograph on Winter Solstice 2013 during one of his many visits to Somerset Farm in the years that I worked for Frederick and was privileged to call it my home.
In that evening's fading light, a chilling air descended from the cloudless sky, settling across the fields and the nearly still river. The sheep, bellies plump with turnip tops and peanut hay, tucked up under the roof of their shelter for a long rest. Young oats and crimson clover began to surrender their radiant green glow to the darkening heavens.
Loaded up with a dozen rosy-cheeked children, Dud and Luke eagerly pulled the wagon along a serpentine trail through the Yeopim's woods. Attentive to Fred's firm but gentle commands and careful hand, they strode knowingly on the fringe of Field 1, where he first got his start in farming over 30 years prior.
Before long, the rest of the crowd would arrive at a slow creep down the farm lane, dodging mud holes, to gather in fellowship by the barn. The moon was waning, full just 3 nights before, and the night turned black ahead of its rising. A mess of oysters, a whole lamb rested inches above a bed of wood coals. It was a time to celebrate another season and the many who made it possible. Somehow, the memory of that night has stuck with me through each of my own life's transitions.
Long nights afford the time and quiet needed to digest the outcomes of a sometimes blurry year. I wish you the same feeling this solstice and holiday season that I get each time I think back to that night many years ago--that we are each part of something much bigger than ourselves. That darkness is made light when we come together and share our common passions, experiences and hardships.
Our world and our nation is deeply divided. The gnawing we can feel from its many troubles can at times be almost unbearable. Yet, in our small community, I hope that we can be propelled by the things that bring us together and unite us. Perhaps the social healing needed across the world can only come when each of us works diligently to build that reality in our own back yards, when we take the time to speak to and learn from one another.
Like a blazing fire against the silhouette of a dark barn, how can this light be ignored?
Thank you for your part in our small effort to make our community more self-reliant and focused on the lost art of listening and respecting one another. May your holidays be filled with peace, prayerful contemplation, plenty of good food and gifts of true meaning.