In between the midwinter madness of tiny ice snowmen, chickens tricked into laying eggs by car batteries, and sleeping hives of honey bees…….I paid for my chickenfeed and received the docket to take to the feed yard. Then the man behind the counter passed me a thick brown envelope. I looked confused, I must have. I asked incredulously, “what’s this?” Then the man looked humbly confused and questioned, “Sir?” Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a lady accept a similar envelope by reflex with gratefulness. Then in an instant I put it all together, the time of year, the local farm supply business, the lady, the man behind the counter, my inexperience of it all. I replied, “of course, yes! Thank you very much.” That was it, that was the moment. I the townie had just received a token towards my transformation into culchie. I had just been given the farm supplier calender. We now have the tractors, the chickens, the balers, and the snow covered sheep to mark the march of time.
It sometimes feels like we skirt around the edges of the winter days. We wake up in the dark and cling to the cold light of the stars and maybe the moon, before driving off to work. Then we work. On the way home I hate the light, the light of cars. The density of city traffic is something I feel glad to leave, into the dark. It’s with irony that I found myself working in daylight today; on the shortest day. In between shovelling the sludge of fallen leaves and the foul fowl bedding in the chicken house, I would find myself looking up at the sky, the novelty of it; daylight.
The chickens also had their shortest day today as the car battery feeding them their false daylight was flat. The electrickery of the LED lights seems to be working to some degree. The two young hens still lay continuously; they lack wisdom and know no better. From the older hens we have just received two eggs this week, something unknown until late February.
We used the eggs to bake a cheesecake. The little man and I smashed biscuits into crumbs and mixed things in bowls. This is a present for his teachers. Baked things are the best of presents for teachers. I received a gingerbread me this year from my A level class. It’s nice to receive something that someone has put a lot of effort into, more importantly; took delight in making it.
Overcharged with daylight and exhausted from baking, the little man, the little lady and myself lay on the sofa and watched the 1970 classic, ‘Santa Claus is coming to Town.’ Then I kept the light to a deliberate solstice low as we played lego by the woodstove.
Later on I fell into my solstice tradition. I opened up Kathleen Jamie’s ‘Darkness and Light.’ The lovely sharon looked at me with a little confusion and asked if I read that every year. I ask her how could I not:
Mid-December, the still point of the turning year…………