21 December, 2004 – Sunny & Cold –12º
[This post is part of the 5 Years Ago Today Series]
Up early and back to the island as quickly as possible to make sure everything and everyone is okay.
The Festival of Lights is a community march through the streets with noisemakers and lights to chase off the darkness and bring back the light on this the longest night of the year. It is one of the most magical things to see everyone come together and participate, banging drums, shaking rattles, shining light and celebrating together.
But this year I’m alone on the island and it’s dark. So dark. Even the moon is hiding.
Every day I feel the darkness eating a little more of the light away. Every morning I wait a little longer for the sun to rise. Every evening I have to light the candles a little earlier. The fire has become more than just my source of warmth, it has become my companion in ways I’ve never considered before.
I talked to dad about my plan to march through the forest to the Big White Pine with my candle to chase back the darkness and my bell to scare off the demons. My lovely and supportive father suggested that perhaps the bell will “call the demons and tell them exactly where you are”. Even with that image in my head, I could not ignore our solstice tradition.
Out I head into the pitch black of a moonless night to march to the Big Pine Tree and make my little offering of fire and noise to bring back the light. Holding aloft my little red candle and dinging my bell, each step takes me deeper into the woods and deeper into snow drifts. Each gust of wind blows my candle out. Each jingle of my bell echoes my father’s oh-so-helpful words.
I walk deeper into the forest.
The shadows grow faces, the trees whip angrily around in the wind, the candle will not stay lit.
Ding, ding. Dang! Relight the candle.
Ding, ding. Dang! Snow up to my thighs.
Ding, ding. Dang! Even the dogs are completely silent.
Ding, ding. Dang! I didn’t see that branch there that just hit me across the face.
Ding, ding. Dang. What was that noise?
I made it to the tree, where I built a little snow mountain to hold the candle and protect the flame. Stood and rang my bell for a minute or two and then hightailed it back to the roaring fire I left in the house!
I like the dark. But I’ll be happy for another 2 minutes of light tomorrow!