December 21 Solstice Ritual of Dawn

An odd morning – a Monday with only five vehicles passing by. No student walking. The schools are closed for Christmas break.

No break for working folks, though. My neighbor with the lunch cooler is right on schedule. Two contractor pickup trucks roll by, one with an engine so loud it vibrates my porch floor. The public schools still have some employees on the clock as well. One of the vehicles to pass by is a school district vehicle – the driver going down the street with a cell phone pressed to his left ear.

I hear a rooster crow somewhere off to the south. I heard him yesterday, too.

Up above, a jet silently passes, probably filled with people risking virus transmission to spend time with loved ones. It’s a powerful impulse in this dark season.

The jet’s contrail is tinted dawn pink. Because of the reference point of the tree branches, I can see that the contrail is rapidly moving to the south as it dissipates behind the plane. Must be some substantial wind way up there.

I start to think about how that plane can be an analogy for a human life. How we’re traveling together with a certain group of people – some by choice, some by chance. How we can leave a mark on the world that will eventually fade into nothingness, but which still in aggregate influences the planet. How even during the time we’re here on this earth and making our impacts, the winds around us can shift our accomplishments off course. It can’t be helped. That’s the way the world works.

A man walks by on my side of the street, a beagle happily trotting and sniffing ahead of him at the end of a leash. The man says good morning, and I return his greeting. I suppose I’m not exactly inconspicuous on the porch this morning, with my safety-yellow shell jacket. (I’m planning to go for a run when my porch sit and my coffee are done.)

I saw the man and his dog yesterday, too, a block away, as I headed out for a Sunday morning socially-distanced grocery pickup.

It’s nice to live in a neighborhood where people become familiar.

Yesterday morning along with my newspaper, I picked up from the porch a gift bag filled with mini bread loaves – zucchini and pumpkin – that my neighbors across the street had left. They do this every year. Say what you want about our consumerist culture (and there are definitely words to be said), the traditional giving of gifts and thinking of others at this time of year can be a much-needed source of light in the darkness.

The sun rises. A new day begins.

May you find light at this winter solstice. The days ahead will only get brighter.

Copyright 2020 by Katie Bradshaw

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