Winter Solstice, cropped linocut © 1991 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
Midnight is Winter Solstice. I sit in the coming darkness alone, watching the sky. Snow melted and dripped off the roof. Puddles formed in the driveway. A storm will skirt the Twin Cities by morning. I am hoping for a wallop of snow. The more the merrier, a frosty covering for our friends’ pond at the Solstice celebration tomorrow night. There will be a Yule fire. And good friends. And food fit for a Queen.
A few weeks ago, Mom sent me a scan of this old Christmas card. It was after I made a comment on one of ybonesy’s pieces about the process of creating linocuts. I had no idea she had saved it, tucked away in a memory drawer.
There were two Christmases when I wrote long Holiday letters slipped into parchment envelopes with round string clamps; printed snapshots of a plank porch grin somewhere in the Bitterroots of Montana; hand made linocuts with a rectangle of 1/2 inch glass, cattail paper, printers ink, and a baren. Paint was smeared from faucet to jeans. I love getting art-messy.
I look at ybonesy’s detailed linocuts and wonder if people understand how labor intensive the process is. Measuring. Cutting the paper with a straight-line metal ruler. Inking the roller, the clean up, mess, drying period. But it’s all worth it. I want to go on record with that right now.
I’ve been looking at studio spaces again. I need a space to create. And write. I do love being at home. But there is something about getting out of the house that jolts the memory, burns the synapses, jumpstarts the body. And there is the element of community, a vital ingredient. You can’t create in a vacuum. No one can do that for long without losing some semblance of sanity.
I celebrate Winter Solstice this time every year. Honoring the darkness that sits sheltering and cavelike over the Northern climates of this country. It’s Bear energy. Hibernation. West. Introspection. Going into the cave pregnant with potential. Shooting out of the birth canal full of promise. Refilling the well. To create, I have to replenish the coffers. Hold a little bit back for me. Fire in the belly.
Liz will be home from work soon. And we’ll finish our baking. She made the double chocolate walnut fudge last night while I took care of some business items. And tonight, at the end of the darkest, shortest day of the year, we’ll razzle up the cherry oatmeal cookies, the maple glazed walnuts and pecans, and Mom’s family recipe for Southern Rocks. I wrote in a practice the other day, “When Liz bakes, the whole house smells like a Holiday.”
That’s what I want. For the whole house to smell like a Holiday. Scent is powerful. The succulent history of the senses. Connect smell to story. I could tell you a few tales.
One is of Santa, Old Saint Nick. And the other of the birth of a Saint. Don’t forget the celebration of seasons. Winter is delightful. Soulful. Quiet as snow. Dark as molasses.
But you have to make light of the dark. Go inside and write. Visit with the people you care the most about in the world. If that’s not possible, if you are alone, make arrangements to do community service. Give to others. It comes back a million.
Light up the world with blinking strings of dazzle, twittering tinsel, a Pooh tree topper. Of course, I believe in Santa Claus. Are you nuts? That bright red suit can light up these dreary gray Midwestern skies anytime now. I’m ready for Light.
And starting tomorrow, minute by minute, second by second, Spring is on the way.
-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, December 22st, 2007, exactly 12:08 a.m. CST, Winter Solstice in the North