It’s officially winter since the winter solstice has come and gone. You would think that things should slow down. Critters are hibernating or have gone south. The crops are in. It’s hard to get around. But NOOO! We have a holiday season that revolves around Christmas. (Very little mention of solstice, which basically is “the reason for the season”.) So the weather cooperated and we have snow. It seems like a long time without snow or extreme cold in December has given way to some days above freezing again in January after two plowable snowfalls and nights in late December down in the single digits.
It seems fitting that January is named after the Roman god, Janus, that has two faces. We are now facing the new year which looks young and fresh after an exhausting 2017. Besides the usual push to get out a Christmas Newsletter (available here if you missed it), buy and wrap gifts, decorate and send cards, we brought in a cute – but very heavy – live spruce tree and came down with nasty but survivable 10+-day-long colds. By Christmas Day itself we were up and at it again.
A new twist for us were the digital connections with our daughters Bina and April and their families. So while we were unwrapping our gifts, we got texts and pictures of them unwrapping theirs. That made the distances seem smaller. April went to Nelson B.C. on Christmas Day with her family. The romance of their 100+ year old cabin wears a little thin in near zero degree weather. They were able to visit closer to New Years and we had a good time on essentially a second Christmas Day with food, gifts that were a big hit and a little sledding with James.
Cheryl and I made it out to Mary Selecky’s Christmas Dinner with over a dozen old friends, lots of food and the usual surprise gift exchange with stealing allowed (up to three steals). A big bonus was a spectacular sunset and sparkling crystal snowflakes on the way home.
Meanwhile back at the homestead, I have been dividing outdoor time between making biochar and cooking down apple cider for some specialty wines. The local deer especially liked the apple pulp left over after pressing cider. I’m glad I could give them something for Christmas and could build up my supply of material to enrich the soil in the year to come.
An inspiration for that effort was my first e-book The Call of the Reed Warbler by Charles Massey. He describes the changes to Regenerative Agriculture in Australia with stories and histories about his family and farm plus many other farms that have turned their fertility and fortunes around by allowing nature to restore their soils to life without chemicals.
So with a fresh look to the year ahead and this last look at the year behind, I encourage you all to ask not what the earth can do for you, but what you can do for her.