Lightening Up for the Solstice: Everyday Magic, Day 959

Tomorrow the world turns over: our shortening days stop in their tracks, and the light begins lengthening those days for months to come. Even the dreaded month of February, out there on the near horizon, will be far brighter light-wise as our long nights tuck into themselves.

At the same time, this is a year I’ve been lightening up, not so much weight-wise (although certainly warranted by all those height-weight charts). I’ve taken a year-long unpaid leave from Goddard College, a place I love immensely but after 64 consecutive semesters of teaching there or elsewhere, I was ready for a break. I’ve just completed over 25 gigs — readings, talks, and workshops — to promote Miriam’s Well, my new-ish novel in many states (KS, MO, OK, WI, VT, NE, MN) and states of being. In further evaluating the many ways I make a living — “What do you do, Caryn?” “Do you have an hour?” — I’ve edited out work that’s too weighty in proportion to how it fits my callings, health, sanity, and need to make some moolah. Although our family is still grieving and will be for some time, the death of my beloved  mother-in-law also brings a little more mercy and light. And through two years of healing (still in progress) with my integrative physician, Dr. Neela Sandal, puzzling through anxiety issues with a great therapist, and guidance from other supportive humans and forces of nature, I’ve leapt into considerably better health which, as we well know, informs all else in a life.

So I have a lot of reason and reality to sense so much more light, both that bright blur, like right now in the sky emerging, and the easier to lift and carry kind of lightness. The sky we live in and the sky that lives in us will keep bringing us many manner of weather, change, surprise, and mystery, and of course, there is great beauty and discovery for us to traverse in the rich darkness and weightiness of life too. But for now, as the darkness and heaviness lifts some, I’m swimming in gratitude which itself is another kind of lightness.

The Longest Night of the Year: Everyday Magic, Day 463

On the longest night of the year, I strung beads, mostly choosing ones that caught the light, to create a big bunch of light-catchers for Ken to give his co-workers. The gold beads, the iridescent purple-blue-silver ones, the clear beveled ones and all the variations of glass in blue, green and red showed how small things can enlarge light.

On the longest night of the year, I baked sweet potato pies in cheddar cheese crust and made a carrot-cranberry-orange salad to feed 1) one family; 2) two visiting college kids; 3) one good friend who spent the way in our rafters figuring out where the hole for the chimney will be. The pies baked slowly, which was fine because it was a particularly long night.

On the longest night of the year, I washed all the dishes, cleaned and scrubbed the counter (including the parts untouched for weeks), unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher twice, had a run at cleaning the stove and scoured a cast iron pan repeatedly.

On the longest night of the year, I wrapped necklaces for some family members (made while I was making the light catchers) in tiny bags and tissue paper, all recycled from who-knows-when. I also helped Ken fetch the van from the shop where — a true Hanukkah miracle! — it turned out that it didn’t need hundreds of dollars more of work after all. I made a shopping generic cialis online pharmacy list that included all the ingredients for latkes and dog food.

On the longest night of the year, I thought of practicing the cello, reading a book, watching a movie and writing in my journal, but I didn’t do any of those things. I did, however, balance the checkbook, research a restaurant to have lunch at in Carl Junction, MO and have a long talk with Ken about why I feel like a snake who lost her skin and is now slinking through salt each Christmas. We promised to be kind to each other.

On the longest night of the year, I lifted up the quilts and got into bed. The sailbox quilt was made by Ken’s grandmother when he was a boy. Janet and the late, great Woody — family members — made the jewel-toned prayer quilt for me when I had cancer and then had members and their community and members of ours tie each tie (and pray into each). I made the top quilt — sky and earth in all colors to celebrate our marriage. I got ready to sleep between penguin flannel sheets, the cat climbing in to sleep in the nook of my arm, her purring head pressing into my chin. The air was cold, the darkness black, and in the other room, the young adult children talked loud and animatedly with each other as I went to sleep.

Orange Moon & The Skymen: Everyday Magic, Day 155

Sometime between 1 and 2 a.m., Ken woke me up and cajoled me out of bed to the back deck, where I stood in my nightgown and bare feet looking up. It was the eclipse, the solstice and full moon, and he pointed me toward how deep orange the moon had turned, right overhead, with a darker (or was it lighter?) orange crescent contained within the circle.

For many years, Ken has been luring me outside in all weather and all places to get me to look up. As someone who follows astronomy and weather, he reads the sky constantly to see what’s coming and what it means. While I’m always happy to look, I don’t cheapest place buy cialis online share his patience and fortitude on very little sleep. Yet there’s always something to see, day or night, winter glimmer of stars or summer field of fireflies beneath a lightning-hopping panorama, so I step outside and look up.

Last night, slipping out of one dream for this glimpse before slipping into another, I saw something else too: just beyond Ken as he was explaining something about the eclipse I cannot remember today, there was another man: Daniel. Somewhere behind him was Forest, all of them in and out of the house for this hour or so, watching what happens in the sky. Orange moon above and skymen of my home below.

Winter Solstice: 4:22 p.m.

A poem from my book Landed about just about right now (well, tomorrow afternoon at least). Enjoy the deepness of the dark, which will be both lighter (full moon tonight) and darker (an eclipse).

The blunt air morning-stark,

a glass light that levels everything,

makes me forget my intention for this or that,

the insistent hands home to roost

even if my walk is sodden.

Trees gleam like bronze etchings

rising from the cacophony of

cell phone rings, car tires’ turnings.

The night must have its way

even against the snow geese slightly lost

until they find their rut in the wind.


The solstice is a bird with feathers so black

they mirror the buildings, then lift

to land back to this date in time as if time

never left its perch. The motion of breath,

or a wayward finger tapping on the wooden desk

aged by light. The inward turn of stillness,

a slight sway as if standing on a bus, holding

tight to the bar when the wheels mount a sharp corner

and something completely new appears.

Solstice and then the world at this point

flips over, begins arming itself

with light.

Nobody Awake But Us Chickens: Everyday Magic, Between Days 149-150

Just past midnight, and here I am at my desk in my new office, soon to swoosh into Natalie’s room again when she arrives home for winter break in a few days. The furnace kicks on, the chill seeps through the window covering, and the little objects — the salt’n’pepper hugging bear from the set I shared with Natalie, the vase I found in memory of my father — watch over me. There’s no reason to be awake other than how much I like the quiet, the darkness encasing our home as we travel toward the solstice. On one side of this blog entry was the day — vivid and bouncy with lilting work, and tender and sad as I met with a friend going through a hard time, and shepherded my elderly dog to the vet for some pain meds. On the other side is sleep and wherever my dreams — or the outer dreams of this beautiful world — travel me. This is the cusp, and I wrap the silence around me like a blanket before stepping away into what’s next.