Winter Solstice

Celebrate the Dark of the Year

With wood on the fire and candles glowing by the window, greetings from the forest at this wondrous Winter Solstice time of the year. Let this be a time of relaxation from the labors of summer, a time of re-creation and hibernation, when the sun reaches its lowest point in the sky and the nights grow long and cold. It is a time to reflect on the seasons of activity gone by, and look within at who we are, and to gaze ahead and consider what we might wish for in the new year.

Blessing upon you and yours at the Dark of the Year. May its holiday season bring you joy and fulfillment, whether you spend it alone or with family and friends. Enjoy the fruits of the season, however you may celebrate them. In our family, which is of German extraction, we’ve always been partial to treats such as stollen, marzipan, and gingerbread. Others may revel in egg nog and figgy pudding, or mulled cider, fruitcake, and chocolate. It is only right to partake in these, letting them trigger fond memories and continue fine traditions into the future.

I can imagine Barbara and her brother riding out on the tractor with Grampa, to the hill behind the Pines Field on their farm to cut a Christmas tree. I can see them driving back through the snow to unload it from the wagon, at the house. They will spend a happy evening decorating the tree with popcorn strings and ornaments, Dad perhaps lifting Barbara to place the star on top. I can hear the family through time, all the way back to 1948, singing carols together afterwards and sharing whatever treats they liked, before setting out their stockings and going upstairs to bed.

The Dark of the Year is a special time indeed, for so many reasons. It is an ancient season of joy, irrespective of religion or faith, when the sun reached its nadir before beginning the renewal and ascent that would reach its zenith in its opposite time of year, the Summer Solstice, when the work of farming and gathering also reached a fevered pitch. I am not so sure we modern people who have left the land to live in the city do not also feel this, deep in our bones. I believe we all do still feel it on some level.


Keeping the Mystery

Showing Without Telling Secrets

BARBARA REILLY is a historical fantasy. The story alternates between two historical times in upstate New York, following the magical adventure of a farm girl in 1948, and an Iroquois girl in 1779 during a period of great distress for her tribe.

The magical part constitutes the fantasy element of the novel. This is something I believe readers will cherish discovering for themselves, reading BARBARA REILLY. How then to describe the book in general terms and still give a flavor? In my September 21 post I listed a series of key words and phrases illustrating the story. Today I would like to spotlight the book’s Table of Contents.

(The book’s chapter titles tell the story)

Click to enlarge

I designed the titles to tell the story in a nutshell. They do not reveal secrets, but quite clearly, if poetically, give an accurate feel of the book. As in a poem, much of the meaning lies between the lines. One may glean the whole by squinting, as it were, and letting the mind roll over the progression of chapters, much as the waves of Cayuga Lake roll over the pebbly shore at Taughannock Point, near where the mysterious tale of BARBARA REILLY begins.