December 22, 2012

The holly and the ivy

Yesterday was the winter solstice: a short, dark day. Nearly Christmas. The rain – cold, thin, vertical – persists.

At this time of year I like to bring greenery into the house. Holly and ivy help me feel as though I am keeping company with my ancestors, and making a stand against winter's grip with a reminder of growth and green life. I picture the holly boughs over the hearth, houses glimmering with candlelight, the summer's fruit set down in jars to last the household through the winter. These are ways of connecting with the world that still sustains us – more than we fully grasp. In the Nordic countries they light huge fires at midwinter. I can understand why.