Solstice Bread

Today was the Solstice – the day the sun stands still.  The shortest day, surrounded by two long nights that nearly swallow the sun – tomorrow we shall see if he is reborn again.
It was a quiet, grey day.  We got the first precious drops of rain for weeks.  This fall has been so cool and dry.  It was also warm today, so we got both the blessing of rain and the blessing of warmth.

We had a very peaceful solstice.  I baked spent barley bread in wheels, like the sun.  Did you know that on the solstice, no wheels are supposed to turn?  To honor the wheel of the sun.  We did move wheels, but it was necessary to go out and do the milking.  Otherwise we stayed in.  I took a nap with Clothilde, and afterwards Ethan and I both started big kitchen projects until it was time to do the chores.

My kitchen is very, very small and crowded.  It isn’t messy, usually, but with only three high cupboards and three low cupboards, there isn’t much space for pots, pans and dishes.  One short counter is used for drying the dishes, the other counter gets full of knife holders, pens, salt, pepper, spice jars, rising bread, fermenting vegetables, and, inexplicably, pieces of paper with children’s drawings, small change, and Ethan’s coffee paraphernalia.

This afternoon was this ungraceful ballet of shifting trivets, hot pans, food-filled plates, various sizes of mixing bowls, cutting boards, dough, pieces of fat and beef bones around between the table and the kitchen, knocking elbows and misplacing things along the way.  I think we cook well together if we are working on the same projects.  I had committed myself to baking earlier in the day when I began the solstice bread, and while I was napping Ethan thought it would be a perfect time to start beef broth and rendering back fat.  It worked out, eventually and inconveniently.

I brought a bun out for our animals, and gave each of them a piece, to stay fat and healthy and make rivers of milk.  Even our dog, Belle, had a bite.

At home I lit one of the new tallow and beeswax candles, and it’s prism flame lit the whole dark room.  I also lit the candles for the angel chimes.  The children weren’t there.  It was just me and Ethan.  They had run next door, Mirin was mad at me.  The chimes haven’t been working right this year.  They won’t spin.  Tonight I wriggled the chimes a little, and found that it was crooked.  The day we set them up, the children were all fighting.  They pulled it apart and it bent the main stem that holds the chimes.  I tipped it forward a tiny bit, and the angels began spinning.  A little solstice metaphor – a little tweak to balance brings us all happily chiming again.

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