Just before I picked up my pen to write to you for winter solstice, I opened an envelope that had just arrived through the mail. Neatly folded inside the letter, I discovered two little sprigs of wild thyme.
Lost on the limestone
I inhaled the tangy scent and was suddenly tumbled back to the late sixties, when I was living in Paris. It was Easter, I was three months pregnant and we'd taken a train to the south of France for a holiday. Now we were wandering on a high limestone plateau known as the Calanques, searching for the Youth Hostel that would be our haven for the night.
Darkness was falling rapidly, the moon sailed high, and we were lost. I sat down on a rock to relieve the weight of the back-pack and rest my weary legs. That's when I was surprised by an unusual fragrance, penetrating the air: wild thyme, more pungent than anything my kitchen had known. It was everywhere, growing out of every crevice.
An injection of courage
Have you ever found that the smallest, most unexpected thing can charge you with courage when you are floundering? That's what the wild thyme did for me.
My friend is having medical treatment that requires her to draw on courage every day. Her gift reminded me of how connecting with my senses, beauty and wonder allowed me to refresh my brain, make sense of the map, agree on a route with my partner and find the way to the welcoming lights of the hostel.
Finding life in the dead of winter
At winter solstice on June 22 the sun's light will return. But how can you feel it when the days grow more chilly from now on? In winter, sensory awareness tends to contract. Autumn brings glorious richness and spring sweet fragrance, but winter sometimes seems like a bundle of dry sticks or soggy dead leaves.
Dear blog readers, you've seen less of me here because I've been busy writing my Seasons Newsletter, which I now post on my website as a blog. Today I had the bright idea of copying the newsletter into my seasonal inspiration blog, hoping that you will enjoy it too.
You can read and post on my website blogs by clicking this link. (Scroll down to see earlier posts)
I'm also teaching online courses now, and this is keeping me busy. Below is a sample of what I'm doing:
The 'Winter Attunement' on June 23 is an opportunity for you to tune in — not just to the depths of winter, but to your own self. In the online meditation you will be guided to connect with the source of nourishment and wonder within. Following this there will be the time for drawing or writing so that you can express what you discovered.
My friend did the first winter attunement in 2014. She told me that the image she drew sustained her for months afterwards. Others reported feeling 'very relaxed, centred and nourished', and having something 'shift and ease inside'.
I'm hoping to keep this blog going as well. I value the connections we have built with one another, and enjoy posting more personal material here. I just need to find a way of juggling the balls! Meanwhile, happy winter solstice to my friends in the south, and summer solstice to my friends in the north.
In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
I enjoyed this post as much as the one on Matariki. It's great to have your newsletters on your blog.
Thank you Juliet. Not long now before summer finally starts on the calendar as well as in nature.
There is much to worry me in my life right now; perhaps following your words will bring me courage at a time when I want to give up.
Thank you for your blog presence and your calm and inspirational words.
* Gallivanta, Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed these posts.
* Friko, so sorry to hear of your worries. Don't give up. Take a deep breath, remember what inspires you, and take courage.
What a lovely surprise to receive in the mail, Juliet, especially at the cusp of winter. I must remember that. When our Katy was in post graduate studies in California, she wrote saying how much she missed autumn and the leaves. I mentioned it to some friends over coffee - and they proceeded to send her leaves.
I enjoy reading your newsletters; how nice to have them on your posts here. :)
Penny, it was a lovely surprise. How nice to think of your Katy being sent autumn leaves. We can't do this by email! I love the old idea of scented letters too.
Juliet, you write wise words, dear. Very often we need something to encourage, to make good mood. In winter when the days are dark and short I prefer to embroider and making it I'm thinking about all. You have your courses, it's good too. We're in a very light month: June is the time of "White nights" here. There is half an hour between sunset and sunrise.
Nadezda, how fascinating to hear of your 'White nights' with so little time between sunset & sunrise. I love to do crafts in winter; they slow me down. Embroidery sounds lovely. I can imagine you thinking as you sew.
How lovely to receive the wild thyme in the mail. At first I thought it was lavender. I'm sorry to hear your friend is having treatment. I do hope she makes a full recovery. Yes, I'm looking forward to the shortest day - from then on they days will get longer and with that comes the hope of Spring xx
Charlie, I'm always glad when winter solstice is over too. It's nice to have increasing warmth to look forward too. I thought the sprigs were heather to start with, but the smell of the while thyme is very distinctive. I wonder if you have a recipe for it?
A Happy Winter Solstice to you, Juliet -- and what a lovely post. We are sending the Sun your way now . . .
Vicki, make the most of the sun while it still brings warmth. We won't be feeling it just yet, but nice to know it's coming our way. Thank you.
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