The Winter Solstice

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”  William Blake

The winter solstice is generally celebrated on the 21st December, although the astronomical date changes from year to year.  This is the longest night of the year and, symbolising the rebirth of the divine spirit of life, it has been a time of celebration since prehistoric times, with religious and social festivities across all cultures.  Ancient people considered the winter solstice, also known as Yule, as a very important time.   Christmas Day is celebrated at the end of this period .  

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The Company of Trees

I used to visit a friend, Doris, when she was living in a care home and I’d often find her sitting by the window, with a view of an ash tree across the way.  She loved that tree and often said that she admired its strength.  Once I showed Doris a slideshow of photos that I’d taken in autumn, while out walking in an ancient wood. 

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The King of the Waters

Some years ago, I worked on a project at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, researching into ten particular trees, one of which was the alder.

Recently, I was walking along the local canal in the autumn sunshine and stopped at one of the locks to rest my aching feet.  As I leaned on the wooden arm, I recalled two nuggets of information.

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The Song of the Sunflower

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.  It’s what sunflowers do.”  
Helen Keller

I will always remember walking in an enormous field of sunflowers, which towered over me and I stood for a long time, bathing in the golden glow.  I was mesmerized by the velvety petals, the intricate patterns of the seeds and the buzzing of the bees.  The huge sunflower heads were like a sea of faces, radiating brightness and warmth. The song of the sunflower filled the whole landscape and kept me lingering there throughout the afternoon.

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