Winter Solstice, Stories for the Season

winter solstice sunset

We’ve come around again to the shortest night of the year. As we’ve watched the days grow shorter, from this night we can begin to sense they are once again growing just a bit longer with each turn of the sun.

Above is a photo of the spectacular Winter Solstice sunset in 2016. I sat in my car on a winding back road along a ridge and watched the light show above me and the deepening shadows in the ravines below me and thought about how fortunate I am that I have the means to pursue this sight, and that I can take the time to enjoy it.

Watching the sky and photographing it I began visualizing paintings, but the solstice is a time for reflection as well, and stories began to swirl in my thoughts. That was the year I decided to make the time in my life to follow my desire to be a writer. I remembered holiday seasons from the decade previous and soon after wrote the story below, “The Faded Napkin”.

I’ve written a number of essays, short stories and poems since then, and gathered them and earlier works on my writing website, PathsIHaveWalked.com.  I’d like to share a few seasonal works for your reading pleasure on this solstice night. Each of them is linked below.

The Light in the Darkness

In these darkening days it’s easy to curse the darkness and miss the delicate beauty only found at this time. I took my walk to Main Street for errands and found a wonderland one heavy, dark, overcast day in a place I had thought so familiar. I called it my “gray day walk” as a shorthand for those moments of exploration when time stood still for me, unexpected on a busy afternoon.

This essay is equal parts words and photos.

I have had far worse days. Overwhelmed by the demands of commercial work as my customers and I prepared for the holidays along with merchandise orders and custom portraits and my own preparations for ending the year and beginning the next as a small business, I left the house at 4:00 p.m. destined for the post office and bank just before they closed. Read more…

The Faded Napkin

For more than a decade I cared for my mother and brother, both in personal care for medical reasons, including cooking complete holiday dinners so they could feast and take home leftovers. The gathering became a new tradition for the three of us.

The Faded Napkin

The Faded Napkin

I have a white cotton napkin with a woven pattern of broken stripes like dotted lines in pink, blue, green, yellow and violet. The colors are faded now and it’s spotted with stains I can’t remove, but each of those stains is a memory as bright and clear as the colors once were of a series of special Christmas dinners. Read more…

Let There Be Peace on Earth

This story actually happened, and it’s one of my best memories of the pre-Christmas season.

On a dark, misty, not-quite-raining Sunday afternoon just before Christmas, I walked across an uneven, wet parking lot toward Dollar Tree, my mission: three or four pairs of 2.75 or 3.0 reading glasses that I could leave around the house or carry with me as need be since I was recently finding myself unable to read smaller text. I’d probably also pick up some other one-dollar-doodads that I really didn’t need. Read more…

The Christmas Moon

This story happened as well, though it’s based on my perceptions in the dim light of the moonlit woods along a back road. Sometimes we see what is there, and sometimes we build what we want from what we see.

christmas moon

Several years ago I was driving home on a Christmas night, traveling along a dark two-lane road in a somewhat rural area that was familiar and fairly close to home. As dusk fell the light dusting of snow around me was tending to violet and the perfectly clear blue sky above me was also shading to violet in the east. As I turned a bend in the road I met with surprise a big bright and creamy full moon that had risen above the uneven line of pine and deciduous trees nearly silhouetted against the sky on the horizon. I smiled at the pure beauty of the scene and as I drove along, the moon seemed to follow me on my left. Read more…

Have a peaceful Winter Solstice.

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