Home Vashon Living Winter Solstice: Shining Light on the Darkest Day

Winter Solstice: Shining Light on the Darkest Day

Winter Solstice: Shining Light on the Darkest Day

Winter Solstice: Let there be light.
Frank Charron)

In the Pacific Northwest, light is a cherish commodity, a gift where gray skies are the norm and drizzle our daily condiment. When winter solstice nears, Island pagans everywhere light up knowing the next day will bring a few more minutes of the good stuff, the gleaming gold rays of a longer day and the promise of more to come.

On this winter solstice, I had been enlisted by my friend, Karen to join her army of mischief makers for a task worthy of this day: luminary maker and coffeecake baker. Once the gathered Illuminati were fed and the coffee poured, we got to work. Karen, easily the most energetic and organized woman on Vashon, set up a staging area and assembly line for our tasks at hand. We rotated duties between bag opener, sand pourer, candle dropper, wick flicker (wicks in the upright and lock position for easier lighting), and loader of luminaries on truck flatbeds.

My Christmas tree: Lighting from within

Later that evening when I drove back with friends to see what a sand-filled sandwich bag could be elevated to, magic met us at the intersection.  As we turned right, the road through Paradise Valley was aglow with dollops of light inching up the hills and curving through the woods.  We crept along not wishing to miss a vista or hurry the moment. Six miles later, we turned around for a repeat show.

I knew the light wouldn’t linger all night, that when the stars insisted, the luminaries would turn to the sky, and our earthbound celebration would be over, but certainly not the joy of the moments before.

Returning home, I sat on my porch, looking out at my favorite madrona trees, flooded in the light of the season. The darkest day of winter was anything but when lit by kindness, kindled by friendship, and illuminated by community–the light of one flame brought together with and by the light of many.


  1. Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas. Beautiful. You brighten many dark dreary days in JNU. Thanks for all the good cheer, laughs and beautiful photos.

  2. Merry Christmas, Tom and best wishes to you and your family for the holidays and New Year…I hope we can get together again in 2012!

  3. Thank you so much for all your work. I am new to your blog (but not to Vashon) and loving your site, your photos, and your writing. Happy Solstice to you… and may you enjoy the joy of this season…

  4. I am always so excited to receive mail from Tall Clover Farm. I savor each post. You have a beautiful way with words Tom. I agree with all the folks that have said you should write a book. Happy holidays to you and yours.

  5. Thank you for your perfect record of this fine day. Wishing our paths had crossed. We were on the lighting and dropping off crew. Though I did sample the very fine coffee cake. And it was delicious.
    Much love to you this season. Hoping to see you! xoxo

  6. Idea people are the best, followed closely by those who pick up the idea and make it happen. Thanks to all of you Vashon Islanders who cared enough to shed some light for the rest of us. Simply Gorgeous!


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