the little hands of summer

There is a book we bring out every year with the other children’s holiday books.  They used to live on the bookshelves year-round, but as Kristina grew up, and other books wanted to occupy that space, the holiday/winter books moved to the Christmas boxes under the stairs.

Now we greet those books as old friends when we dig out the boxes and reach for the decorations.

Dear Rebecca,

Winter is here.

This is the name of one of my favourite books of the season.  With all the focus on the holiday(s) – entertaining, making, baking, doing, eating, dressing, shopping, wrapping, visiting, lighting, capturing (memories), unwrapping, and more – it can be easy to miss what is happening outside.

And quite possibly, what we are doing inside is to distract us from the deepening dark outside.

Each day, as the sun has set earlier, I reach for the candles, lighting them to ward off the damp-and-drearies.  Somehow, the candles do a better job of that than the overhead lights in the kitchen, or the lamps in my office.

I’ve taken my dog for walks earlier each day, to catch whatever sun there might be, and to be fair, we had a glorious fall/early winter here in the Pacific Northwest, with an unusual amount of sun.

But still.

When it is dark at 4:00 pm, and the cloudy, drizzly, rainy days have finally arrived, it is not hard to feel like Eeyore, to wonder if we’ll ever see the sun again, if anything good will ever happen again.

Dear Rebecca, Winter is here

Thus begins Jean Craighead George’s book about the rhythms of nature and the seasons.  With her subtle conversational style, George tells the story of a wise, observant Nana writing to her granddaughter.

Nana writes about winter where she lives, noting what the animals are doing for the season.  She remembers Rebecca’s warm-weather fun and reminds her those times will come again, now that the little hands of summer have started pulling each day a few minutes longer.

Loretta Krupinski’s illustrations are gorgeous, filled with the greys and blues of winter, the red of a barn and a child’s mittens, the textures of animal fur and wings and shells.

The little hands of summer are in the clouds, slowly performing their magic to bring about the change of seasons.

Solstice is indeed something to celebrate – we’ve made it through the darkest night, we lit a candle against the darkness, enjoyed food and drink, admired the tree alight in our living room, held each other close and shared our stories – we laughed.

We made it through, together.

Now we’ll have a few days when the length of each day seems unchanged, when the earth seems to hang in the balance, the sun hovers as low in the sky as it will be all year, and then – finally – we will feel the tug of those little hands, the little hands of summer.

Happy Solstice!

listening to: Gloriana, Wild at Heart

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