And so the tipping point of the winter has arrived.
Even though, once more, we are coping with horrendous floods over most of the country and the talk is of the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy, the Sun rose in a clear sky this morning. The birds greeted the dawn with one of the loudest choruses I have heard in a long time and I am filled with the feeling of hope and the promise of things to come.
The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and the beginning of Winter, not much to celebrate there you might think, well think again. The coldest weather may still be to come but from today until the Summer Solstice on June 21st the days will lengthen and the sun will rise higher in the sky*.
I love the traditions and lore surrounding the Winter Solstice, the battle between the Oak and Holly Kings, with the Oak King winning to rule for the next six months. The Oak King represents a time of renewal and rebirth and growth. The Holly King, by contrast, represents a time of rest, contemplation and learning. Interestingly the Holly King is often described as a having white hair, a white beard, robes of red or green and driving a sledge pulled by stags (sound like anybody you know).
No matter what traditions you keep or if the solstice passes you by, the inescapable fact is that the the garden knows that Spring is on its way. The Arums have come to say hello, the cleavers and cow parsley are now on standby. So whether you wassail or no, the garden may just be starting without you.
*For me the height of the sun is hugely important as my garden is at the base of a hill which casts a long shadow in the depths of winter.
So Happy Solstice here’s to Spring and the Promise of Things to Come .