The berries are like Mama’s shade-shifting lipstick.
Autumn is here. Sheila says our backyard holly tree is in panic mode over whatever winter weather is to come. The holly is ensuring that all who are hungry will have berries aplenty for the cold months ahead. She has prepared a winter feast.
Holly’s berries were green then pinkish orange, color deepening now with each day that the sun sleeps longer. The berries are like Mama’s
shade-shifting lipstick, I think, waxy green in the tube, transformed to candy apple red on her lips. “Don’t you think you’re overdoing it,
a bit?” I asked Holly. I have never seen so many berries. She must be getting tired from wearing all the jewels summer has draped over her spindly arms.
Her only response is to blush in the autumn light while mama wren sticks her head out from the inflamed branches and offers up a scolding winter prelude.
“Dip your aching toes in cool waters,” said Summer to the wilderness wandering woman.
“Tease your tastebuds with blackberries. Lay your weary body down on gentle meadow grass. Breathe in the soft sweetness of coral honeysuckle where hummingbirds drink and dance.”
“Blush with pride,” said Autumn to the old maple tree.
“You earned it. You shaded the little girl who held summer stars in her eyes while she sat beneath your branches and read and read and read once upon a times into dreams into fierce hopes for the future.”
“Bend toward hope when icy winds blow,” said Winter to the fragile-seeming ones.
“Bend, but don’t break. You are stronger than you know. You are resilient. You are enough.”
“To push your shoulders up, up, up,” said Spring.
“Up through still-cold greening sod to fragrance the dawn with daffodil prayers.
A friend invited me to participate this week in the #NaturePhotoChallenge. For seven days, I posted nature photos on Facebook. This was a fun challenge. Here is my week’s worth of nature photos (I posted two squirrel pictures on the same day):
Winter is coming. But even in winter-dead forests, cedars are green forever. Not boisterous or extravagant. Steady. Green in every season.
Advent Reflections for Winter Solstice
Gyroscopic dance choreographed by Earth’s axial tilt.
Sun stand still
The land is vulnerable now,
sometimes covered by snowflakes
that have let go of something
and pirouetted down
from the heavens
to enchant rooftops
and leaning-over farm fences
and autumn-tarnished grass.
And while tulip bulbs repose
in unseen silence
beneath the austere earth,
cedars in snowy places
fragrance the cold air
with emerald stillness
and praise the December moonlight.
Winter is coming. Soon, cold will blow up on our doorsteps and clamor to get in through our windows. Winter is coming. But even in winter-dead forests, cedars are green forever. Even when all other creation colors hibernate. Cedars remain. Not boisterous or extravagant. Steady. Green in every season.
On this longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, I am grateful for cedars in life’s winter place. Cedars perfume the air with God’s evergreen promises during a Christmas season when so many hearts are broken and so much about our world causes spirits to ache. Thanks be to God for people who are “home” to us in every season, for places that cultivate our best selves, and for Gospel promises with deep roots that even in wintry times know how to live on.
**Note: Winter Solstice happens in the Northern Hemisphere in late December (11:48 p.m. ET, 10:48 p.m. CT, 9:48 p.m. MT and 8:48 p.m. PT on December 21 and on December 22 in other places in the Northern Hemisphere).
Photograph, “Cedars in Snowy Places,” by Sheila G. Hunter, all rights reserved.