Posted by Cassondra Murray Jan 4 2013, 12:15 am in Agricultural cycle, Cassondra Murray, Cassondra's blogs, Imbolc, Light, Solstice, Wheel of the Year, winter
Hi. I’m Cassondra, and I have no curtains on most of my windows.
Hi….I’m Cassondra, and I leave my Christmas tree up until Groundhog Day each year.
Hi…I hoard big boxes of 100 watt, incandescent bulbs, because they’re getting hard to find. I need them.
I have huge, six-by-three-foot windows all along the front of my house, but I may add skylights.
I go to the tanning bed a few times each winter, just for the melatonin hit.
Hi, I’m Cassondra, and I’m a lightaholic.
It’s true. Every bit of it.
I know, I know, with the whole Goth chick, night-dwelling, coffin-sleeping image, you wouldn’t guess, would you?
This vampire needs a lot of light.
When I was a little girl, about this time every year, I’d go out with my dad to feed the cattle twice a day. All bundled up in so many layers that my arms stuck out like a tiny, poofy blue scarecrow with fur trim, I’d follow him out there into the cold field beside the barn, and climb onto the back of the truck, throwing all of my skinny, five-year-old weight into shoving bales of hay off the tailgate, onto the ground in the chosen spots, while he drove artificially slow so I could do my part of the job.
He could have done it in half the time without me.
We went early in the morning, just after breakfast, and late in the evening, just before dark, which, in mid-December, came about five o’clock.
Once the hay bales were opened and the bundles scattered so all the cows could have their share, my dad would use an axe handle to bust the ice on the pond, and then we’d head for the warmth of the truck, crunching side-by-side across the frozen ground, mission accomplished.
But about mid-January every year, my dad would stop, part way to the truck, and look up at the sunset sky. He’d push his hat back on his head and squint toward the western horizon, at the cold, winter-pink sunset behind the bare branches of the woods at the back of the farm.
And he’d say, “Days are gittin’ longer.”
I’d stand beside him in my poofy blue, little-girl fur, and squint at that same pale pink light, and say, “Yep.”
On those long, cold nights, we’d go back to the house, down to the basement where half of the floor was concrete and the other half packed dirt, and we’d sit around the wood stove. Under the dim light of one bulb, my dad would sharpen his pocket knife. Sometimes we’d roast chestnuts or peanuts in the shells, watching the fire blaze warm and bright through the holes in the stove dampers.
We were waiting for the light to come.
I never asked my dad how he felt about the dark days of winter. I didn’t have to. He was a farmer. He lived his life by the light of day, waited for it, so he could do his work. Waiting for the earth to green so he could plow the ground, sow the seeds for his crops, plant his garden, and carry on. He lived and fed his family by watching the light. Depending on it. Needing it.
Sometimes I think it’s silly, the way I need the light. Each year, on June 22nd, I’m overcome with a sense of dread. I smoosh it down, so people don’t notice. But it’s there, in the background all summer and fall. About mid-October, I mark my calendar for December 21st and the vigil begins. I am waiting for the return of the light.
I don’t want to live without four distinct seasons, but I know, now, that I could not live up north like Bandita Susan, or Bandit Buddy Jane. I have SADD disease. Sunlight Affective Depressive Disorder. I don’t know if I was born with it, or developed it at some point along the way, but this is why I hit the tanning beds a few times each winter. The short winter days….they are not good for me. I need the light.
That’s why I leave my Christmas tree up. The sparkle of the lights cheers me through the dark part of the year.
This time of year, I get in touch with my inner Druid. The one who, many centuries ago, probably danced under the full moon each month (maybe naked…scary thought)and celebrated each turning point in the Wheel of the Year.
Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is the day I wait for. Known as Imbolc, it’s the point when the returning light picks up serious speed in its fight to overcome the darkness.
If I can keep a bit of sparkle around me, ala Christmas lights, candles, or any source of fire, until Groundhog Day, I’ll be okay. I can keep my spirits bright. The light gains about one minute a day, this time of year while the earth rests. For the Druids, that was enough to celebrate the coming of the light.
It’s enough for me, too.
My dad’s birthday was January 2nd. Two days ago. Born in the darkest time of year, he lived for the coming of the light.
I am like him in that way. I don’t need the light to feed my family, but I need it, just the same.
Tonight, as I considered what to write for my blog, I sat at my kitchen table, computer monitor glaring at me.
But I was staring out the window to my left. The pond out back was a sheet of whisper-thin, clear ice, reflecting the pale pink of a winter sunset.
As I sat there, I heard my dad whisper to me, “The days are gittin’ longer.”
We have about two more weeks to go. Two more weeks before I will feel that shift, here on the earth. That lift in my spirit, that call to start watching for the bulbs to poke out of the dirt. But my dad, from across the veil….he already sees it coming. He knows the light is almost here.
Maybe it’s folly, but I think he whispered encouragement to me from that place so far away that I cannot touch him, and yet so near that I sense his presence.
Winter can be lovely, but I feel my spirit lift when I know that spring is coming…that the light is gaining ground.
This lightaholic…this time of year…she gets her second wind.
I’m a little early, but I feel it. I am lifted, waiting for the light to come.
What about you, Bandits and Buddies?
Do you notice the shifting of the seasons?
What changes for you with the increasing darkness, or the increasing light?
Do you ever feel connected to something larger, something old, as the seasons pass?
Do you love the cold weather and the snow?
Or do you look forward to the coming of the light, and the warm summer days?
Is there a palm tree in your soul?
Or is there a ski slope?
When do you take your Christmas tree down?
How do you cheer yourself in the dark, cold days of winter?
If you live in the tropics, do you notice a difference with the coming of “winter”?
Or do you enjoy the relief from the heat?
If you live south of the equator, do you wait for the longer days of summer–winter here in North America, where I live, for the warm sun?
It seems strange to us, that Christmas would come in summer for you. Does it seem strange when we, in the northern hemisphere, speak of a white Christmas?
In either hemisphere, are you like me? Do you wait for the coming of the light?