December: a month of contrasts.
I love the merry days of Christmas: bright colours on the Christmas tree, cheerful songs, and the sparkle of fairy lights. But I also love those quiet days, when the air is still, and magic hangs around the house in an altogether different way.
Late in the afternoon the clouds that streak the sky behind the ash copse turn a fiery pink and orange. Blackbirds call, and darkness descends. By the glow of candlelight, I look out at the dark silhouettes of the trees across the lawn and enjoy a moment of quiet and reflection. The Winter Solstice brings with it a distant feeling, some strange connection with the past; sharpened by the scent of winter greenery, the resonance of the more sombre carols, a slight chill in the air, and the flickering of flames.
Winter is here, both merry and bright, and solemn and still.