the long and the short of it

Yesterday was the solstice – the shortest day of the year.

Despite this traditionally being considered the start of winter, the days will now begin to get longer and the evenings will be brighter.

Then again, according to the Time and Date website today was less than a second longer than yesterday; I guess we’ll just have to wait a bit before we notice much difference.

autumn leaf on wooden table

a rose for summer

Apparently the summer solstice and the full moon coincide tonight, so here’s a white rose – a rose for summer and white for the moon.

white rose

White roses always make me think of this line in Laurie Lee’s Home From Abroad:

The hedges choke with roses fat as cream.

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the lion in autumn

It’s the second half of December and we are heading quickly towards the shortest day of the year. This year, though, the solstice isn’t until Tuesday 22nd, so talking about it today, Sunday, is a little premature – hence the post title, which gives me the excuse to post a picture of a lion:

lion relief carving

A quick look around online tells me that the word solstice is derived from the Latin, and combines the word sol, sun, and the word sistere, to stand or stop: it’s the moment when the sun seems to pause – the point when the year turns.
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unconsidered trifles and other seasonal fayre

Today is the shortest day, but that doesn’t mean there is any less to do than usual, so rather than try and write a well-planned single-theme post, I am going to gather together a whole host of notes I’ve jotted down over the last few weeks, none of which is really worthy of more than a few lines:

Last week, I posted about the hippo at the manger; since then, it’s been pointed out to me that it isn’t really so out-of-line in these days of modern nativities, and perhaps if I’d seen the lobster scene from Love Actually I might have been less surprised.

The hippos weren’t the only things to catch my eye at the local exhibition, though; there was a Russian nativity scene that had me pondering:

Russian-doll style nativity scene
Does Mary really bring forth an angel, a donkey and the Baby Jesus?
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summery

pink and cream gladiolus spike

Well, I managed to miss the solstice sunrise, but it does look quite summery outside the window.

There again, my idea of what summer looks like has been changed by years of living in Spain.

Forgetting for a moment about the rain and the cold that is more often the reality, I think of British summer as pale and hazy, delicate and frilled, in pastel shades of strawberries and cream.

It’s honeysuckle, gypsophila and sweet peas; strappy sandals, pretty print frocks and matching cardigans.

In Spain, though, summer is brash and solid and in-your-face.
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