Swans of the Winter Solstice

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Whether these are the longest nights or shortest days is a matter of perspective.  Waking with the sun reveals thin, rubbery ice near shore that just supports a few hungry gulls.  In a few hours shifting winds will clear it away – for now.  Within a week or two the bay will be white with ice and snow and the lakes’  quietest season will be underway.

Gulls at the icy edge

Gulls at the icy edge

It’s a time of greys and whites punctuated by the blackness of clear starry nights and brightened by glimpses of sunny skies and sunsets.   As we transitioned today from an old season to a new beginning we were visited by a trio of swans. Beyond their grace and strength these visitors are a powerful symbol in many traditions and a fitting gift to renew our spirits. http://www.druidry.org/library/animals/swan

Three swans a-sailing

Three swans a-sailing

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Long shadows, short trees

The Solstice approaches and long shadows are everywhere.

IMG_1463 Where weeds grew taller than kindergarten trees their seed pods and frost-ravenged skeletal remains no longer hide the progress of the conifers.   What snow had accumulated was rained away and green grass remains a significant part of the landscape, albeit peppered with faded oak and maple leaves.  The annual inventory of surviving pines and poplars came to just over a thousand.   Overall success this year was very good except in a planned windbreak of red cedars.  This planting at the crest of a hill suffered from being in heavy clay and too far from a water source.  So far only hybrid poplars appear to thrive just about anywhere.

IMG_1459 Pines, either Scotch, red or white now outnumber the short-needled spruces and firs. A few that were planted as “3-yr transplants” instead of seedlings now stand chest high or better. The 5″ pine seedling on the left took root in the shadow of grasses but should rise above them next year.

A dawn redwood after the frost

A dawn redwood after the frost

New this year were a few Dawn redwood transplants. They grew well but it’s too soon to say how they will handle a snowy winter.