Solstice Night

Last night was the longest night of the year.

Today I’ve been sitting at my desk and working, working, working. Which is actually not all that good for me. I need to get out into the world, or at least take a break and read. And I haven’t been doing much of that. But the work needs to get done.

Today, on the Tor blog, there was a post called Picturing Winter: A Solstice Celebration. Tor asked fantasy artists to send their favorite images of winter, and it’s a wonderful collection. I’m going to include a few of my favorites here, but go and look at them all. Here you go, my favorites:

Last night was the longest night of the year, and I have a strange feeling, as though I’m stuck in a sort of trench, a dip in the year, a time when nothing much happens. Or at least when nothing much seems to be happening, but things are happening underneath, secretly, where I can’t see them. And I’ll see the results of them later, maybe not for months. It’s a strange feeling, and like all intuitions, I question it – I wonder if I’m simply making it up. But my intuition has generally led me right before.

I think the only thing to do, when you’re in a trench, a dip, a time when nothing seems to be happening, is wait. I think it’s the time of darkness, when nothing seems clear, when the way doesn’t seem to be there. And you just wait, and look at pictures of winter, and do the work you have to, and trust that somehow, somewhere, things are coming right.

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4 Responses to Solstice Night

  1. That feeling of being suspended (your trench feeling) is so familiar to me…I am re-posting a piece of Garrison Keilor’s Writers Almanac for you “Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and the astronomical event that has more rituals and ceremonies associated with it than any other. It is no coincidence that there are numerous holidays around the solstice, for the timing of these holidays is rooted in ancient religions. There is archaeological evidence that the solstice has been important to human cultures for at least 30,000 years; many ancient stone structures like Stonehenge are designed to pinpoint the precise date of the solstice, and many ancient peoples held festivals of light to bring about the return of summer’s longer days. The term solstice means “sun stands still.” It is when the sun stays closer to the horizon than at any other time of the year and appears to rise and set in the same place for several days in a row. But while the sun stands still and tonight is long, stars may appear to streak through the sky as the Earth passes through a stream of comet dust — the yearly Ursid meteor shower — which may produce a pleasing shower of shooting stars for northern viewers near the end of the night.”

  2. minimalbears says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I’ve felt the same way for the past few weeks. I’ve been planning things for the future, but it feels like nothing is happening. Like you say, it’s best to wait and everything might come clear in the end.

  3. Hecate, that’s lovely! Thank you. 🙂

    Michelle: I think that gets at exactly what I was writing about. It seems as though things are standing still,but they’re actually still happening. And sometimes we don’t, or can’t, look up to see the meteors hurtling past. A terrific quotation.

    Minimalbears: I think it will come clear in the end. The times in my life that have been the darkest and most difficult, when it felt as though things were standing still, have also been when change was happening or just waiting to happen, and I didn’t know it yet. I could only see it later, looking back.

    The problem with life is, we’re like the weavers who made those magnificent medieval tapestries. We work from the back, and we don’t get to see the front until — I’m not sure when exactly. But the point is, we can’t see the pattern at the time we’re working on it. Only later. (Which can be crazy-making, can’t it?)

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