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Word from the Woods: Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice greetings from the Maine Woods!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be chronicling my adventures this winter in a series of videos I’m calling “Word from the Woods.” I invite you to join me in my cabin as I celebrate the year’s longest night, and on the shore of First Roach Pond this morning as I welcome the first sunrise of the new season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyRWIB0pI-o&t=14s.

When I walked from my cabin to the shore this morning about 7 AM, the eastern horizon was shrouded in clouds. The view seemed bleak and gray. But to my delight, as the sun crested the flank of Shaw Mountain, the clouds parted, revealing glorious light. To the west, a waning moon shone low in the sky.

The sun rises above Shaw Mountain on the morning of the Winter Solstice, December 21, 2021.

As you’ll hear if you play the video, the day has been a bit blustery, with the wind gusting to 34 miles per hour. When I returned to my shore just before noon, the surface of the pond was frothy with whitecaps. Waves crashed against the shoreline rocks and erupted in plumes of spray.

The wind-whipped shore of First Roach Pond at midday on the Winter Solstice.

As you can see in the photos, we do have some snow on the ground. A storm on the night of December 18-19 deposited five fluffy inches. But so far, the rough, unplowed gravel roads to my cabin have remained drivable, thanks to the good clearance and all-wheel drive offered by my trusty Subaru Forester.

I’m thinking that will change tomorrow. We’re expecting up to seven inches of icier snow over the course of the day. In the morning, I’m planning to head to town for some errands. When I return, I’ll leave my car parked on the Frenchtown Road, which is plowed, and hike the remaining 4.6 miles to my cabin, pulling my gear sled behind me. It will probably be late April before my Subaru makes it back to my land.

For me, the December Solstice is a time of joyful anticipation, as I look forward to the wonders of the season to come. In closing, I’d like to share the prayer I spoke this morning on my shore:

A Winter Psalm

Source of all, I thank you for winter’s harsh beauty.

In the deep cold of winter, you are my warmth.

Through long frozen miles, your strength sustains me.

You lead me through silent snow-clad woods.

You guide me up icy mountain paths

to see visions of a world made new.

I walk on ponds grown stark and white;

where water once rippled, strong ice upholds me.

Your wild clean winds rush over me like an ocean.

I rejoice in brilliant blue skies

and bright stars that light long black nights.

Winter’s peace rests my soul.

Source of all, I thank you for winter’s harsh beauty.

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