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Sunday, December 22, 2013


While the annual madness of contemporary Christmas swirls all around, the solstice quietly occurred without fanfare or notice of any kind. Even a celebration of the solstice I saw for children and families to understand what a solstice was and what it meant was held on December 19th, I guess because it was a more convenient time. We have come so far from being in touch with the astronomical events that mark our lives. Calendars do not show the solstices or equinoxes or lunar occurrences that were so vital to our ancestors. The nearest thing we have is first Fridays or second Thursdays.

I try to think what it would be like for early peoples to encounter the deep dreariness of what we now call December. The days get darker, the nights get longer, winter seems as if it will never end and it gets colder and increasingly harsh. The first guy to figure out from the shadows that the days were indeed getting longer and the sun was returning to warm the earth must have been dumbfounded. The history of predicting the movements of the spheres began with this and became the foundation of the major religions and later the sciences. Now our lives are marked by Black Friday and cybermonday. The actual movements of the earth and sun and the earth have no meaning and are not even noticed unless it is an especially slow news day.

I drove to Union City to pick up my unsold handmade rustic willow furniture at Arts Depot on friday. I met the Younces there. They had come to my shop after purchasing one of my inlaid willow console tables at Bear's Mill this past summer. They had earlier ordered a couple of tables and a stool that I completed and brought with me so that we could overcome the distance as they live in Troy, Ohio. The day was rainy and dark and such a contrast to the snowy countryside that dominated just a day before. I was able to stop at the Bartonia Restaurant for a great meal of walleye. There were quite a few locals taking advantage of this feast.

As I was not pressed for time, I slid by my usual spots at Summit Lake, but the ice dominated the lake and only geese and a few mallards were to be seen. It was nice to get back to the shop and return to the warmth of my fire, where I spent the remained of the day after unloading. This makes the last event of the season and as always gave me pause to ponder the events of the past year and begin to make a plan for the coming year. I often find myself feverishly trying to figure out a new way to market my handmade rustic willow furniture, my brain restlessly trying to come up with a new approach or a new product, but as I gazed into the lovely fire, I found feel such things melting away and I found myself feeling like anyone else staring into a fire at this dark time of year. Completely tenderized.

The coming year sees me scaling down some of my efforts. I am beginning to realize that at 67 years old my life is half over and I find myself slowing down. I am in good health, but I am not capable of the sustained effort that used to be so easy for me.

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