Tag Archives: winter solstice

Apple pie and the longest night

June 21st;  the winter solstice; the longest night of the year.

The sun will set tonight at 5.01pm and not rise again till 8.03 am. A long, dark night is ahead. Harsh winter days are ahead, too, but, after this solstice, this time of standing still, the days will lighten and lengthen and provide promises of the warmth to come.

I have been quiet; gathering in the sunshine (when it appears); thinking and reflecting; allocating my physical and mental resources, carefully and sparingly.  I have been reading your blogs, as and when possible, enjoying your stories, your creativity, your company. You filter through my screen, reach out with your words and images, and become the surround sound, the presence, of my silent space, until the phone rings, or the doorbell trills, and my real-time world reminds me where I am.

Where I am….in a kitchen, looking at dishes, waiting on the sunlit bench, to be sent to the dishwasher.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

In a kitchen, looking at the dishes, but sensing the sweetly fragrant camellias, at my back, on the sunlit table.

Yet, I am not entirely present, in this kitchen, for at the edges of my mind, I am dwelling in the time of my elders, seated at small kitchen tables, near old coal ranges, delighting in warm winter puddings, or bowls of hot porridge. And I am chuckling that this little girl, my mother’s big sister,

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

grew up to be the winner of a National Apple Pie competition in New Zealand, in the 1950s.  ( Yes, cooking competitions existed before  Masterchef) Who would have guessed it?  She was a star in the making.

My aunt is NOT in this photo but these people are the placegetters in the 1959 Apple Pie Competition. ( The photo of my aunt with her prize-winning pie is lying somewhere deep, and presently undiscoverable, in family files, read junk piles! )

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959 Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

The darkness is coming; the sun is edging westward in the sky. Is it time to stop the memory clock and make a pie, perhaps?

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE - (Te Ao Hou - No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014 Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE – (Te Ao Hou – No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Or should I light a candle, take up the aged photo albums, and dwell a little longer with the old ones?

The blessings of the Solstices, the still time, to you all.

© silkannthreades

 

Matariki and my mother’s birthday

NASA Matariki 2012 small_0Today is a special day. It is my mother’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Mum! My mother and my father live in my sister’s home in warm, tropical Queensland.  But my mother’s birthplace is just few kilometres east of my present home in Christchurch.  It was raining ( I think) on the day she was born, and it is raining on this day, too. It seems that  some things, weather wise, have not changed  in 91 years 🙂

Something else that has changed little in all my mother’s  decades, and for decades before her time, and which will change little in decades to come, is Matariki, or the star cluster Pleiades.  In New Zealand, in traditional Maori culture, when Matariki appears before dawn in late May or early June, it is a signal that heralds the New Year, in accordance with the Maori lunar calendar. This year, Matariki was on 10 June.  When my mother was born, Matariki  apparently disappeared from the night sky around  19th -21st May and reappeared in the first new month ( Pipiri ) of the year, about 17th -19th June.  So, by this reckoning, I can say that she is a New Year baby,  born under the ‘little eyes’ or ‘the eyes of god’  ; two of the interpretations of the meaning of Matariki.

Despite all the clear instructions on how to find Matariki in our New Zealand skies,  I have completely failed to do so. When I look at the night sky, I am immediately lost.  However, there is one bit of star-gazing that I can do, and have done, for as long as I can remember, and that is to notice the first star of the evening.  And with that noticing comes a little verse that has been sung over the centuries by many a child and, undoubtedly, many a mother too.

“Star light, star bright, The first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.”

I have wished many a wish on that first star of the evening sky, though what those wishes were I no longer remember. Perhaps they came true, perhaps they did not.

One wish that my mother had, a very long time ago was to have her travel diary published. She kept a comprehensive diary ,and many letters, of her early married life in Fiji but publishers were not interested then, and most likely still wouldn’t be.

However, with the POWER of WordPress at my finger tips, I am going to make my mother’s wish come true, on her birthday, and  publish a small extract from  her first rough copy manuscript !!!!

“It was our first winter at home (Christchurch)  after almost two years in a warmer climate, and we were feeling the cold dreadfully. Dealing with gas and electricity rationing and a fuel shortage did nothing to relieve our feelings, or the cold! On one particularly cold, wet, bleak afternoon I sat shivering before a small fire, nursing aching chilblains, and thinking gloomily of better days. Beside me on a desk lay a bundle of letters, written to the home folks, while we were away, and on an impulse I picked one up and began to read. Gradually the gloom dispersed and I was back again in the warm, happy islands of Fiji. Thoughts flitted through my head as bright as the hibiscus flowers and the myriad gay little birds of that tropical land where we had been so happy.”  September 1951

A Happy Birthday and  a Happy Matariki to my mother for all seasons, and for all time. Have a lovely day in warm sunshine. Is it fun to have your work published? 🙂
For the star gazers; a link to the heavens 🙂  (http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/matariki-maori-new-year) ( http://www.astronomynz.org.nz/maori-astronomy/taatai-arorangi-maori-astronomy-2.html)
The first image is apparently one from NASA and seems to be used by many of the websites I have looked at whilst researching Matariki.
© silkannthreades

Lighting the way to the winter solstice

Apologies, good people, but I must interrupt my tales of the medlar to update you on my beautiful, blossom-ful,  ornamental cherry tree, the prunus autumnalis.  This lovely tree has the delightful habit of producing blossom twice a year; in spring and in autumn/early winter. About 3 weeks ago, it was just beginning its late autumn blossoming and I showed you these photos of it in my post Two Seasons in One Tree https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/2010/

Since early May we have had many days of rain, and few of sunshine.  I haven’t paid much attention to the cherry tree. I have been fixated on the dreary rain and equally dreary skies. So, imagine, my little bounces of joy, when, this morning, I awoke to bright sunshine, a blue sky and the apparition of my prunus autumnalis shimmering all over with delicate, pale pink blossom.  And it wasn’t simply the shimmering that made me joyful. The tree was a-twitter of tiny wax-eyes. These little birds, freshly arrived, in my garden, herald the time of colder days. Much as I dislike the colder days, I  welcome the winter appearance of  these busy, extroverted conversationalists.

I went out to the garden to take some photos and, of course, the birds flew away, but, in the absence of their chatter, I was able to hear the dense, humming chorus of the bees and bumblebees. On closer inspection, it seemed to me that the shimmering of the flowers was not so much from the light, dancing  on the petals, but the movement of the bees amongst the blossom. How glorious.

And, how lucky am I to have this loveliness on my doorstep. It’s a sweet gift from Nature to lift my spirits as we head rapidly to the darkest day of the year; the winter solstice.Prunus Autumnalis © silkannthreades