Midwinter is Past, the Sun is Returning (Slowly)

Six different lanterns, each lit with a candle from the inside, on a black night background

We’ve passed midwinter here in Australia, and the days are slowly but surely getting longer. Of course, we still have the coldest month to get through, but this week in Canberra has so far consisted of some beautiful clear, sunny days. Yes, the mornings have been cold (-5C or so), but the blue skies make it all worth while.

To celebrate the darkest part of the year we attended two midwinter festivals at our children’s school, one for the kindergarten and one for the rest of the primary school. In the kindergarten festival the children walk along a candle lit path, just after the sun goes down, carrying their own handmade lanterns. As they walk they sing “See the little Lantern’s shining shining bright, oh how we love to see their light”. They walk to a hidden grotto where they deliver seeds collected through the previous term, asking Mother Earth to care for them until Spring.

My daughter Mikaela turned six a couple of weeks ago, and a friend gave her three beeswax candles and a little bowl to stand them in as a birthday present. Each night at dinner time we have been lighting one of these candles, which sits in the middle of the table while we eat, telling ourselves that it represents the sun’s light which is returning for longer each day now, and that when the first candle has burned all the way down, then Spring will surely be nearly here.

a pile of mulch with a hole dug out of the middle of it, and boy sitting in the hole, looking back at the cameraLast weekend we had a tree surgeon come and drastically prune back a hedge along the side of our yard, and take out one big photinia and a dead banksia, to make way for some fruit trees. In the mean time our yard and house feel far more exposed, but both the chooks and the house are seeing more of the North winter sun, which is rather nice.

The kids have been having a lovely time building a fort out of the huge pile of mulch which the tree surgeon left out the front of our house.

Winter is a time of hunkering down and waiting for the sun, but it can also be a time of clear thinking and energy. I’m looking forward to planting out two fruit trees we have sitting in pots, a nectarine and a pear, and thinking a bit more clearly about what to do with our back yard, now that we can see it better. How to make best use of the sun for ourselves and our vegies, how to make sure the dog and the chooks both have plenty of room (without the dog eating the chooks), while still making it a productive and also fun place for our family.

A few mid-winter and mid-summer posts that have caught my attention:

DIY Sprouting Jar Tutorial for You and Your Chickens – from Living Homegrown. I fully intend to start spouting just for my chooks!

Light in the Dark from Bowerbird Blue (whom I found recently when she joined our linky lists), about her school’s winter solstice celebrations, and how to make a lantern out of a citrus fruit!

Greenhaven Goodlife on Disaster preperation and taking responsibility. Do you have a kit ready?

Tricia at Little Eco Footprints is getting Excited about a waterless urine diverting toilet, which I think in a sustainable world just as to be somewhere in all our futures, especially after watching this TED talk from Nick Ritar of Milkwood.

I keep reading about Lacto-fermented vegies, but I haven’t tried it yet and I’m still not sure if we’d actually like them, but Annie at Haphazard Homestead (I love that name), has almost convinced me with Lacto-fermented Love.

  8 comments for “Midwinter is Past, the Sun is Returning (Slowly)

  1. July 6, 2012 at 2:12 am

    That is some huge pile of mulch from the tree surgeon! Wow! He looks like he is having a good time digging in it!

    • July 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      Yep, that pile has been a hit all week. There are two rooms now, with a tunnel between!

  2. July 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I love the sound of the kindergarten festival. Magical.

    And thank you for helping to spread the word about urine diverting toilets 😉

    • Editor
      September 15, 2012 at 7:57 am

      You’re welcome Tricia 🙂

  3. July 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Hi kirsten, I just dropped in to see what you’ve been up to and was surprised to see a mention. Thank you. I love that your kinder celebrates the solstice. What a lovely ceremony! I wish our school celebrated in some small way. It’s good for children to be aware of the seasons.

    • Editor
      September 15, 2012 at 7:56 am

      I agree Linda. In some ways it’s easier to be aware of the seasons in Canberra than some other places, with quite a lot of autumn colour and Spring blossoms, but I know I started to become much more aware myself when I started gardening. But it’s nice to have markers of the not only the seasonal change but the turning points.

  4. September 13, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Hi Kirsten,
    The festival at your children’s kindergarten reminds me of similar latern festivals that were held at the Rudolf Steiner school that my younger sisters attended. They were magical events where everyone involved would experience being “right in the moment” and appreciate the natural here and now. It seems, even with children, so much of our focus is on what is to come and what we are frantically working towards; therefore we can risk missing (especially seasonal) changes as they happen around us.

    • Editor
      September 15, 2012 at 7:54 am

      Thanks for your comment Emily. Yes, it’s a good opportunity for us all to practice living in the moment, and I love that the school prioritises that sort of experience for the children.

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