Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Yule Woods

It happens on the winter solstice if one is fortunate. The seeker wraps up in her warmest winter gear and heaviest boots and heads off into the woods lugging a toboggan load of hay, apples, suet and wild birdseed. Her hood is pulled up all the way against the north wind, and a set of secateurs is slung between her shoulder blades - she will use them to cut cedar browse for the deer in their winter enclaves, for the deer are unable to get through the deep snow and forage for food. Many of the does are "with child" and will bear freckled fawns in springtime if they make it through the winter without starving. In her pocket is a small golden beeswax candle and a packet of wooden matches.

The day and the wind are bitterly cold, and the snow is deep, and the whole exercise just seems like a lot of work and an exercise in futility. The seeker thinks she might be better off at home with a pot of tea, a roaring fire on the hearth and a good book. What is she doing here? Is she out of her everlasting mind?

Then she rounds a curve on the trail and finds her favorite grove of trees standing tall and still and dignified in the snow. She stops and looks around. There are flocks of chickadees and nuthatches dancing from branch to branch and chirping a merry greeting, the muffled thumps and slow even breathing of the patient deer in their winter yards nearby.

The seeker puts down the rope of the toboggan she has been towing and bends to her work. The winter solstice rite is a simple one, sustenance for the wild creatures who are dear companions in the woods all year long, a lighted candle in the snow and thanks for the returning light. Last, there is a deep and reverent gassho (bow) to the winter forest all around her, for strength and comfort flows from the guardian trees and warmth too, even on this gray day of deep cold and blanketing snow. She can almost hear the trees breathing and feel their dreams, and she smiles.

As she blows out her little candle and turns to go, she remembers why she came. She knows that she is just where she should be and doing what she should be doing, here and now. She is home in the woods on Yule.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful, just beautiful. Thanks for taking me with you!

Prairie Star

Dawn said...

thank you for feeding the wild creatures.

Anonymous said...

Happy Yule & Winter Solstice! You still warm the heart and provide a path for journey! lolafae

Suzanne said...

Thank you so much for doing this, Cate. I can't begin to thank you enough for the love you give to nature and animals and for sharing it with me.


Karen said...

Beautiful post.
Thank you
Bright Blessings