21 December 2013

Darkness gives way

In a gap between winter storms, the waning moon topped the trees in a sky that was clear for a precious hour or so this morning. It's winter solstice and at last the year will turn!

A waning moon suspended over the trees in the park on solstice morning
Not a moment too soon.

Winter-dark moon, earlier in the month
I've never found the winter-dark easy, and now each year my late brother's anniversary on the 19th adds to the sadness. He's always in our thoughts but never more so than on that day. And these last two weeks B has been through the wars ... but he is resting and recovering now... Iz lies beside him on the couch and provides dog therapy, and with the stove burning brightly, the christmas tree lights on, being plied with food, and with such amazing friends and family visiting and dog-sitting and shopping and cooking, not to mention B's own wonderful spirit and steadiness... well, healing and recovery are well underway.

21 December

So, the twenty-one theme. Here's how the field, park and garden looked this morning (you can see them in November here). I suppose the trouble with starting this in November is that there won't be a whole lot of changes from month to month for the first few months. But who knows!?
Anyway, here are the 21 December images.

The field

Not a fox in sight, but some mornings recently I've seen one drift silently across this field and into the copse of trees on the right

The park

The sun was just about to rise on the shortest day of the year

The light of the rising sun worked its luminary magic on the tops of the oaks and ash

We've had a really mild winter so far, but a couple of incredibly windy, stormy days have released the last of the leaves from the sycamores

The garden

The still of the year in the garden

Winter pool and the therapy-dog
Solstice is the real turn of the year for me. I've celebrated it 'officially' now for 10 years or more. A few stalwart friends have been there all along the way (you know who you are!) and a few 'traditions' have grown over the years. Spiced beef is one, simmered with vegetables, cloves, allspice, water and ale for a few hours and then compressed (with a few handy--and heavy!--reference books; something the internet just couldn't do) to squeeze excess moisture out. Yummm.

There's spiced beef in this picture...
A more recent and personal one is to check if the witch hazel in the back garden is coming into bloom. And this year, YES, the small brown buds are opening to reveal tiny tendrils of lemon yellow to quiver in the winter winds.
Witch Hazel blooms just in time for solstice celebrations
Walks have been a bit curtailed, but Izzy and I have found time once or twice for the winter woods.

Winter beech
Elf caps pinpoint a palimpsest of a fallen tree on the forest floor

Winter is time for texture

Iz surveys the swirling river

Over the last couple of weeks, I've found the beautiful clarity of Ingrid Kertesi singing Bach to be a solace and sometimes I've worked on random colour charts at the same time. I can't find Kertesi online, but you can find here on Naxos 8.554508 with the Hungarian Radio Choir and the Failoni Chamber Orchestra. Here's a taster, Flosst mein Heiland, sung by another soprano:

Ochres and russets, Caran D'Ache and Faber Castell Polychromos

Happy Solstice all.


  1. Absolutely gorgeous photos,esp. The first two.
    Happy, happy solstice and may the new year bring health and happiness too xxx

    1. Thanks Claire. Hope the turn of the year is wonderful for you and yours.

  2. Lovely photos, I was listening to Bachs Chrismas Oratorio ( John Eliot Gardener ) just yesterday ! Happy solstice to you.

    1. Thanks Linda. Hope you have a lovely Christmas and new