Winter Solstice


Uprose the wild old winter-king,


And shook his beard of snow ;


‘ I hear the first young hare-bell ring,


Tis time for me to go!

(The poem in its entirety is at the bottom of the post)

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The Winter Solstice occurs today, December 21, 2009 at 12:47 Eastern Standard Time in Tennessee. This is the shortest day of the year and the sun’s daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest. The seasonal significance of the Winter Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. For eons, humans have celebrated this turn of events with lights, feasting and gifts. We join in the lighting of the darkness as we look towards the rebirth of the earth in spring.

Frances

(The wooden wizard of winter was one of several that we painted on chippings of firewood at our first Tennessee home. They were sold as nature loving santas, and later morphed into green robed, green haired and bearded men with the accompanying tag:”Leaf Man”, Ancient symbol of being at one with Nature, Life and the Earth…., not that popular as I still have several, HA)

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SPRING

Uprose the wild old winter-king,

And shook his beard of snow ;
‘ I hear the first young hare-bell ring,
Tis time for me to go!
Northward o’er the icy rocks,
Northward o’er the sea,
My daughter comes with sunny locks:
This land’s too warm for me!’

And softly came the fair young queen

O’er mountain, dale, and dell;
And where her golden light was seen
An emerald shadow fell.

The good-wife oped the window wide,
The good-man spanned his plough ;
‘ ‘Tis time to run, ’tis time to ride,
For Spring is with us now.’

And the city-maiden smiled that day

In all her loveliness ;
‘ I must pack my furs and things away,
And think of a new spring dress,
A new chapeau—a feather fine,
Light gloves, and ribbons gay.’
Oh, winter wild !—oh, maiden mine,
Thus runs the world away.

From The music-lesson of Confucius, and other poems published in 1872
By Charles Godfrey Leland

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42 Responses to Winter Solstice

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a beautiful poem. I like your santas too. They look so cheerful. The best part of christmas decor to me are the lights. I have a difficult time taking them down after the holidays. I hope the love light is shining brightly for you and yours this season. Cheers and Happy Solstice.

    Hi Lisa, thanks so much. The lights really make the season so happy and cheerful. Especially when they are on timers!!! HA May your holidays be filled with laughter and love. Give Luna an ear scratch from me. :-)
    Frances

  2. Les says:

    One thing I have never become accustomed to is the fact that yes we will be seeing more light, but we will also be experiencing the worst of the winter weather yet to come. The increased day length is hardly a consolation.

    Francees, please have a merry Christmas and I hope the new year is rich for you in all the right ways.

    Hi Les, thanks. It is all a frame of mind, glass half empty….. One year we wrote down the sunrise and sunset times to see the change beginning on this day. One minute a day longer until March, then it was an avalanche of minutes! But the angle does change and can be seen. The sun was shining directly in my face on the loveseat by the sliders in my bedroom yesterday. Only for a couple of days is the sun that low, a measureable change as it will rise higher. Excitement reigns! May you and yours enjoy the best holidays ever! :-)
    Frances

  3. Happy Winter Solstice Frances! I love the poem and its movement towards spring! We northerners must wait a good long while to put away our gloves but it is so lovely to think of that day coming! Great winter wizards! I recall your having said you had no talent for painting! Well, that just is not so! They are wonderful! You have created wondrous spirits there. Carol

    Thanks Carol, it seemed a good and hopeful ode to what is happening outside, even with the coldest temps yet to come here as well. It is the change in the light, if not the coldness, that warms our heart. The painting is very primitive, but we like them too. That one tree had a particular grain to the wood that just spoke to me, revealing the faces within. Even the kids made some. :-)
    Frances

  4. lynn says:

    So sweet, this poem! Happy Winter Solstice to you, Frances! I like your wooden wizard art ;)

    Thanks Lynn, glad you liked this selection. I love how it speaks of what is to come. May your holidays be bright! :-)
    Frances

  5. Happy Winter Solstice Frances! It is hard to get in the Winter mood, when all of Houston is dressed in Fall Color. I spent the 3 hours this weekend photographing some of the best color Houston has seen in 30 years.

    Trying to get into the Christmas Spirit…. :)
    Our weather can be so confusing here at times.

    Thanks Jackie. It was hard for us to think Christmas when we lived there as well, although one year we had a light frost on Christmas day. We still were in shorts by noon however. How beautiful your fall leaves are, and wonderful photos, as always. :-)
    Frances

  6. To me, Winter Solstice is the sweetest of days – yes, it means winter is really still ahead of us – but the warmth of the sun lengthening our days gives us all hope. Have a wonderful holiday season, Frances.

    Thanks Heather, I agree completely. The knowledge that the sun will now rise higher in the sky fills us with hope and anticipation of spring. We have bulbs poking up all over, they need more mulch!!! HA Thanks for that shortbread recipe, I am definitely going to be making that for the family. You too have the best of holidays ever. :-)
    Frances

  7. Merry Solstice! A great poem to have us looking forward to spring again. According to the Musician (who can venture outside with Charm) the ground is frozen solid here this morning. Frosty sparkles in the morning sun.

    Cameron

    Hi Cameron, thanks. Glad you liked the poem too. Winter does seem like a wild wizard, to me anyway. Our ground is the most frozen yet this season, but it is supposed to warm to the fifties, with SUN! Hooray! ;-)
    Frances

  8. Rose says:

    I don’t think it’s quite time for me to put away my “furs” and put on a new spring dress yet, but I do celebrate with you the Winter Solstice and the lengthening of days, Frances. I love the wizard painting on the firewood; you have so many talents, Frances!

    Hi Rose, thanks so much, glad you liked the santa/green man/winter wizard. He can be whatever we want him to be. No spring dresses here either, more like long johns and uggs! :-)
    Frances

  9. lotusleaf says:

    The wizard is lovely. Happy Winter Solstice!

    Thanks Lotus, and the same to you! :-)
    Frances

  10. Jenny B says:

    The days will be growing longer now, and not long until “That fair young maid” comes back to a fresh new garden full of promise. A lovely tribute to the Winter’s Soltice…I loved the photo of frosty foliage. I think your green man is quite cute, and the significance was probably lost on many “city dwellers”.

    Hi Jenny, thanks. The fair young maid might be stuck at an airport in the northeast! HA You are probably right about the leaf man legend, I should have stuck with the santa motif. :-)
    Frances

  11. Gotta LOVE Winter Solstice! I can hardly wait for longer daytime hours… not that I’ve been complaining. ;-) Cute little Winter King.

    You complain? Never! Thanks, Shady, glad you liked old man winter in santa wizard leaf man form. The sun is shining today, a very good day indeed! :-)
    Frances

  12. The lengthening of the light is very welcome! That’s the thing that gets me the most this time of year – the short days. More light makes a happier me!

    Me too, Dave, me too. These dreary cloudy cold days can take a toll on the mood index around here too. The sun is shining today, finally, hooray! Hope it is for you as well. :-)
    Frances

  13. Gail says:

    Frances, I love your Wooden Wizard of Winter and the story of how they morphed into Leaf Men…When I went outside to catch a few sparkly frost photos…It felt different and smelled different….the sun was shining and the birds were singing! Is it possible that the creatures and the sun are already celebrating the Solstice! Have a wonderful day! gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. The sun seems brighter today, a good omen, even though we have much more winter weather to come. The birds are very active out there, I can barely keep the feeders filled. I am happy to see them enjoying the sunshine too, and might have to join them a little. Enjoy the party crowd. :-)
    Frances

  14. Kat says:

    Happy Winter Solstice. Now we can truly look forward to spring. I think your Santa/leaf men are cute.

    Thanks Kat. It is sunny today and the light seems brighter already! :-)
    Frances

  15. I’ve been hosting a winter solstice party for years… we drink Gluehwein, eat well, and of course have a bonfire. This year my niece is in town from CO and so we;re focusing on her side’s activities… I’m having the fire, but not the party, tomorrow. I usually also do my first winter sowing of the season on the solstice! Happy merry!

    Hi Santa Monica, this might stick for a long time! I hope your bonfire is fabulous, the perfect way to celebrate the return of the light. I have placed my Baker Creek seed order and have been thinking about some gravel sowing here too. :-)
    Frances

  16. Willow says:

    Love the pics and the poem. Our family celebrates both Yule and Christmas. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    Thanks so much, Willow. We might as well celebrate as much as possible, is our philosophy. The best of holidays to you and yours as well. :-)
    Frances

  17. Ah, Solstice – something we can all celebrate no matter what our background. I agree with Heather. Course we don’t have much of a serious winter where I live…

    Thanks Country Mouse, it is a cause for celebration for all creatures, the return of more light and longer days. Even if it doesn’t get really cold, your daylight is still affected. We all need more light! :-)
    Frances

  18. Anna says:

    Enjoyed the poem Frances. The thought of the first hare-bells ringing is oh so joyous :)

    Thanks Anna, I am glad you like it. It is light hearted and cheering. I had to search for the campanula photo, but was happy to see those blue bells that remind us of what is to come. :-)
    Frances

  19. joey says:

    Love the post and this wonderful day! Happy Winter Solstice, Frances, and the merriest of holidays. Merry Christmas!

    Thanks so much Joey, and the same good wishes to you and yours. A happy day, indeed! :-)
    Frances

  20. Darla says:

    Love, love this post!! What great nature Santas…..and celebrate we are….!

    Thanks, Darla. I am glad to hear you are making the most of this fine day. :-)
    Frances

  21. Hello Frances,

    I love your Winter Wizards. My husband loves doing woodworking. I would love to show him the picture of your wizard if that is okay. I love the winter’s solstice. In summer, we get tired of long, hot days, so have little reason to celebrate the summer’s solstice. I just love this time of year :-)

    Hi Noelle, thanks. Please do show your husband, although there was no woodworking involved in this other than the Financier splitting firewood. We picked up the small chips and thought they looked like they had images living inside them that wanted to come out. We have been in Arizona in the winter, it was quite pleasant. :-)
    Frances

  22. commonweeder says:

    What a wonderful poem. It speaks to the delights of seasons coming – and going. Here too the nights grow shorter and the days grow colder. But celebration is in the air.

    Thanks Pat. I am glad you liked it too, it seems happy and light, just right for today. Let the celebrations begin and last to the end of the year. :-)
    Frances

  23. Kate says:

    How clever! I love the wizards and what a wonderful poem. Isn’t it nice to be rounding the corner from the long, dark nights? Our winter is just beginning but I don’t mind the cold ~ provided we have the light of day and plentiful sunshine. :-)

    Merry Christmas, Frances!

    Thanks Kate. Rounding the corner, I like that! We can bundle up against the cold, that lack of light was starting to get to us, It is good to know the worst is past. :-)
    Frances

  24. Frances, This is just delightful, in all ways! Happy Solstice!

    Hi DP, thanks. I am glad you enjoyed our little offering to celebrate this wonderful day. :-)
    Frances

  25. Catherine says:

    I love the winter wizard and the poem is great. I’m so looking forward to more daylight. Happy winter solstice :)

    Thanks, Catherine, I am so glad you enjoyed both. More light, who would not cheer for that? Happy solstice to you and yours. :-)
    Frances

  26. Happy Solstice! It may be the official start of winter, but the increasing daylight is reason to cheer.

    Thanks, MMD. We know that the coldest times are yet to come, but more light is cause for celebration. Thanks too, for that sweet card and seeds, my friend. :-)
    Frances

  27. Lola says:

    Love your man with the long white beard. He picked a lovely spot to stand.
    Sunny here today. In the 50′s. Cool but nice. I’m looking forward to Spring.

    Thanks Lola. We finally had some sun today here as well, with more on the horizon tomorrow before rain later in the week. We will take what we can get! :-)
    Frances

  28. VW says:

    Yeah hooray – we’re done with the shortest day! Have you ever spent the solstice in a northern latitude? I can’t believe how much more darkness we have up here in Washington compared with California or Iowa. But I’m not complaining; I have plenty of lamps to turn on inside.

    And a hip hip from our corner as well, VW! We used to live in NE PA, that’s as for north as we have ever lived. Winter seemed to last forever there, a hard pill to take for one born and raised in Tulsa. The lights on the house and trees are so cheering to us as well. More light is cause for celebration. :-)
    Frances

  29. Kiki says:

    Merry Solstice Frances..what a beautiful post..fantastic job..I enjoy the magic and spirit you share…Blessings!
    Kiki~

    Thanks so much, Kiki. I enjoyed your wonderful celebratory post of the solstice as well. The best to you and yours! ;-)
    Frances

  30. teresa says:

    Happy Solstice to you. Today marks the turning point of those dark short days on to those wonderfully long days in June. I love snow and winter but thank goodness we get that wonderful summer to look forward to. Your post was fun to read as always. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas filled with good health and happiness.

    Thanks Teresa and the same back to you and yours. We love all four seasons, really, but the dreams of spring keep up going through the colder months! :-)
    Frances

  31. Autumn Belle says:

    Today I celebrated Winter Solstice too. It is a tradition handed down for generations in my family. This year it is Dec 22nd according to the chinese solar (Hsia) calendar. I guess there is a one day difference with the Western calendar. You have quoted a beautiful poem. Frances, Happy Winter Solstice and Merry Christmas!

    I loved hearing about your celebration practices, Autumn Belle, thanks for sharing them. Glad you liked the poem, it seemed perfect for my intent. May you and your family have the best the holidays and coming year have to offer. :-)
    Frances

  32. Layanee says:

    Just the thing to get me into the Christmas spirit. Beautiful photos as usual, Frances. Peace to you and yours!

    Thanks Layanee. I loved seeing your Nepal photos and hearing the honest narrative about what it was really like. Mt. Everest looked majestic and scary!
    Frances

  33. Janet says:

    Wonderful poem. Happy Winter Solstice to you…longer daylight is good…..now for warmer weather.

    Thanks Janet and the same back to you and yours. We have had a couple of warmer sunny days here. It will be cold and miserable again for sure, but every nice day makes life so much better. :-)
    Frances

  34. Hi Frances, loved the poem and your wild winter man.~~Dee

    Thanks Dee, glad you enjoyed them. We just discovered that poem and really liked it too. ;-)
    Frances

  35. Jean says:

    Happy Solstice Frances! Onward through the ice and snow to spring! Love your winter wizard.

    Thanks so much Jean, and the same to you and yours. Onward is right. I am ready to look to the next year, bad attitude I know. We haven’t even had Christmas yet. The garden is calling me.
    Frances

  36. Joyful, joyful, Frances, this post made me smile a lot. Onward we go, through whatever winter throws at us, because each day dances us closer to spring. Enjoy this fourth gardening season, as I call it.

    That is such a wonderful image, Jodi, the days dancing us round and round, thanks. I am ready for gardening. The sun is shining today, it feels so warm through the windows. :-)
    Frances

  37. mothernaturesgarden says:

    I love all the heucheras surrounded by moss.

    Thanks Donna. That is the corner of the daylily hill, just to the side of the concrete Athena keystone. The moss is so pretty this time of year, it shines in the sunlight.
    Frances

  38. Joanne says:

    A lovely post and poem but I especially like your old man.
    At least the shortest day is behind us now and although more cold weather to come we can look forward to the spring.

    Thanks Joanne, glad you like both. We do feel like a corner has been turned, knowing full well the coldest days are still ahead. It is about the light, and we already feel a difference. Or is it that we just really want to feel a difference? :-)
    Frances

  39. Cielo says:

    First time here and love it! Love your garden, and magical fairies floating around… ;) I am adding you to my blog list

    Hugs from one fairy to another faire ;)

    Cielo

    Hi Cielo, thanks and welcome. I am so glad you came to visit, leading me to your wonderful blog. :-)
    Frances

  40. I’ve never heard that poem before, but it’s one that I will remember. After today, the days will get longer, right? Isn’t that good news!! I love your blog and invite you to visit my new blog. I am so inspired by all of you lovely ladies and I decided that I wanted to share my home with you too.

    Merry Christmas and hugs

    ANDREA

    Hi Andrea, thanks and welcome. Longer days is the best news we can imagine, it means spring is waiting in the wings. I enjoyed seeing your space and reading about your forays in the thrift shops. A Merry Christmas to you too. :-)
    Frances

  41. Sweet Bay says:

    I didn’t use to pay attention to the winter solstice but it’s a good excuse to celebrate the lenthening days! Always every day at 3pm I wish for about 4 more hours of light. However, I always wish that the quality of the day at 7 or 8 in the summer could extend until about 11 o’clock at night too. lol

    Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas!

    Hi Sweet Bay, thanks and the same good wishes to you and yours. It gets dark so early now, we wish for more sunshine to keep the cold away. A little more warmth in the mornings would be good too, but we are in the midst of a warm sunny spell, for today anyway and there will be no complaining about anything coming from me. :-)
    Frances

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