Today I happily welcome Winter Solstice. I love love love this day. The darkest day of the year – where here in the Keweenaw there are 9 hours and 45 minutes of daylight between the official sunrise and sunset times. Why so happy on such a dark day? Because it’s only going to get lighter from here folks (well, at least till summer solstice)! Yes, we have a lot of winter months left here in the north, but with all this darkness and snow it’s a great time to unwind and reflect, relax and renew. As a family who lives in tune with the earth and seasonality, we have annual Winter solstice traditions. I also like to take time for myself around solstice to look at the dark and the light in the past year, and project into the future my hopes for the upcoming year.
As a Winter solstice tradition, our family plans a book exchange between the 4 of us (what better to do in winter than read?!); we also go on a winter hike. A weather system is moving in with more snow today, so the hike should be filled with snowy wonder! This year I’m adding in a new tradition – HARVEST! It was our first year doing a winter planting in our high tunnel and now it’s time to harvest the beets and carrots. On a cold winter day, what a joy it will be to wash off the soil from our fresh vegetables and prepare them as a family. We’ll roast the carrots and beets with potatoes and herbs we harvested in autumn and enjoy a hearty dinner.
There is plenty to reflect upon this year. This past summer we celebrated our 4th anniversary here – it’s really important to us to celebrate the major life change we made, where we went from a typical town-dwelling working family to a yurt living, homesteading family in the Northwoods. Every year we celebrate making this soul-filling change in our lives.
2021 was our first full year with the high tunnel for growing produce. This means we started planting earlier than ever before with seeds going into the ground on March 7th, almost 3 months before much of the outdoor garden. And, in early August a small winter crop was planted. It takes a lot more effort to manage all the garden space for longer periods of time, but the rewards are immeasurable!
Also in 2021 we opened our AirBNB farmstay and had the most amazing response. It was a great way to generate more income for our family business, but more importantly enrich our lives (and hopefully the lives of our guests too). We met so many amazing people, and for those that took the 30-minute farm tour – we we able to share our story and experiences with them and connect them to how food (plants and animals) is grown in sustainable ways.
Our farmstand went on into its second summer and we expanded the types of produce for sale along with having more produce early in the season. The farmstand has connected us to our own community members, and beyond! Plus, my heart is full knowing our farmstand guests are eating nutrient dense, uber-local, organic produce and homemade foods in their own homes.
A challenge of 2021, as usual, is time. I am still learning the balance of work and play (usually losing play to work), and coming to terms with the fact that for homesteaders, summer is more work and less play and it’s okay, as long as I keep tabs on a suitable balance within that.
Another challenge of 2021 was that at the start of summer I started experiencing some discomfort in my leg, ankle and foot. Because I tend to downplay my own need for care, I ignored doing something about it. It became the source of chronic and debilitating pain over the course of the summer and I finally got myself into the doctor who ruled out any major problems and sent me to physical therapy (PT). My mobility has been coming back over the last few months of PT and I have high hopes this lesson sticks: ‘Care for yourself, damnit Lisa!’ I’ve been slowly learning this lesson over the years, but this may have been the most concrete evidence for it yet. And, I’m learning more about why I do this, which is also part of the solution.
Just like any 24-hour day, there are periods of light and dark in our lives. Both are always guaranteed. The question is, what will you make of it? Do you choose dark or light?
Happy Winter Solstice, Friends! May your upcoming days be filled with more light than dark and may you have many things to be grateful for. Thank you for joining us on our journey!