My First Winter Solstice Celebration

It was the last full moon appearing on a winter solstice until the year 2094, which I don’t anticipate seeing.  There was also meteor shower expected. My wife had left for her work party that had seemed unlikely for me to avoid, but after a sudden turn for the worse, I was home alone with the dogs.  This left me an opportunity to do something special, on my own.  It was a no-brainer:  I would celebrate the Winter Solstice.

The dogs followed me out into the freezing cold.  They were more than happy to join me, not caring about the weather or lack of light. I thought splitting some firewood might do me some good, so I started swinging the maul while trustworthy Champ wandered around in the dark.  I attached Roxy’s retracting leash to a log she would not easily drag around.

Champ did his usual thing, fixing himself above a vermin’s burrow as if it might stick it’s head out at any moment.  I got blurry shot of this spectacle in the dark with my phone.  I don’t need to worry, he’s found a situation to monitor, and it could last for the entire night if I don’t call him away.

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Champ, vermin don’t just stick their heads out when you’re breathing down their burrow entrance!

The full moon was bright, creating a wonderful winter feeling in the crisp air.  As a night to enjoy my first Winter Solstice celebration, I didn’t bother going to get the tripod or SLR once I discovered the phone was in my coat pocket.

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Last winter solstice moon until 2094.

I sat down by the fire.  On one side I could barely make out Champ, hovering above his suspected prey, and Roxy on the other side, looking out into the darkness.  Many times I’ve seen this old dog with cataracts tracking stuff in the darkness that I was totally unaware of until I turned on my headlamp. I know she sees things.  Champ only cares about vermin.

My mind wandered as I watched the growing fire, just as human beings have for centuries.  I opened a beer and it was cold.  It felt good to relax by the fire as the full moon made it’s way overhead.  It was just below freezing when we walked out the door, and it was quite bit colder now.  It wasn’t long before Roxy let out a little whine, indicating she was either cold or bored.

We adopted Roxy when she was nine and I admit I there’s a lot of things I don’t yet understand in her behavior.  I feel sure she’s been abused at times because although she was affectionate when we adopted her, she would cower and wince as a hand came towards her.  She still does this, but not as much. I started by patting her on the chest, which she responded to.  Now, when I touch her face, she squints a bit but then tilts her head into it, wanting more.  It’s the sweetest thing, and I feel fortunate to have won her trust, especially since she seemed especially intimidated by men at first.  It proves that even old dogs can eventually become trustful of people, and to learn new things.

I walked over and picked her up, which is becoming more acceptable.  I set her down in a chair near the fire to warm her up.  She stayed put and seemed to enjoy the heat.  I told her to stay and was pleased that she obliged as I walked away to get some commemoration shots.

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Roxy warming up by the fire

Sitting back down with my beer, Roxy seemed totally content.  Champ may have been doing some digging, but I generally don’t care, especially this far away from the house.  I was happy, the dogs were happy.

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I liked the fact that my beer temperature was now probably below freezing in the chilly air, the alcohol not allowing it to ice up.  I got up occasionally to view the moonlight-lit landscape around me and check on Champ, still guarding the burrow.  I saw the familiar neighbor’s house, probably a mile away and the only structure visible from our property.  Their lights were on and I wondered what they might be up to on this beautiful Friday evening.

At about 10:00 my wife came driving up the road, and of course, the dogs took off barking.  Retrieving Roxy, I threw a couple more logs on the fire as she came out to join us.  We sat and talked about the party, which she said was very loud.  A couple of  the other tag-along husbands who had been dragged to this holiday wingding weren’t happy to learn that I had wormed my way out.  If only I wasn’t feeling so under the weather (cough, cough)!  We sat for another hour or so, agreeing that it would be fun to celebrate the winter solstice in this manner again.

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It was special night, spent with three of my favorite creatures.  Unfortunately, the next morning I felt a little worse, experiencing a little vertigo and an even worse hack.  The vertigo was a new thing, and I attribute it to the virus.  I took it easy all day, spending a little time to document my first celebration of “Midwinter”.  Today I’m doing much better and expect to be 100% by Christmas.

Throughout history, many cultures have taken notice of this day, and to me it seems worthy to celebrate.  But Stonehenge is too far away, and I like having traditions of my own. Even though it’s just the beginning of winter, the darkness trend has reversed, along with my attitude.  Simply knowing the sunlight will last a little longer each day always gives me hope.  That’s reason enough for me to toast the solstice.  I hope we do it again next year.

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14 thoughts on “My First Winter Solstice Celebration

  1. It’s amazing how male malaise strikes, and it’s bad, when one is asked to spend an evening like yours, or, shall I say it, when shoe shopping is mentioned. Heck, it hurts to say that *cough cough*. Glad you had a lovely evening by the fire with the dogs and eventually joined by your wife.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family Des. Ralph 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ralph, I seldom get out of these type situations, so I have to document the occasions as they occur! Glad to know there’s other guys around who get it. Thanks for your comment and Merry Christmas to you and your gang as well, Ralph!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sitting by the fire with your dogs nearby, watching the moon, seems to be a wonderful way to celebrate the Winter Solstice! And I’m glad that Roxy is becoming so much more trusting of you. It takes patience to get a dog that has a history of abuse to relax and trust us.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was a very nice evening, indeed! As for Roxy, I didn’t know exactly how I would react to a dog with so much mistrust (she and Champ are opposites in that regard). But becoming close to her has brought me a lot of satisfaction and happiness. She really does want to be a part of the family and has overcome a lot of mistrust issues.
      Knowing your background with dogs, I really appreciate your opinion and feedback, Ann. Thanks! Des

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s always hard to tell exactly what is going on with a fearful dog. Most of the ones we see at the shelter came in from a rescue, either from a hoarder or from a puppy mill, so we assume the behavior was learned (or, in the case of a puppy mill, as a result of in-breeding too.) But it’s also true that some dogs are just naturally timid and shy, so we don’t really know that for sure. And I have seen dogs come in from horrific situations that were still sweet and trusting.
        Still, the fact that she shies away from your hands when you move quickly or toward her head indicates that she was most likely hit and has learned not to trust people and particularly their hands. I once walked a dog who constantly looked at my hands, just wanting to know where they were, and that broke my heart. In those instances it takes a long time to overcome that learned fear, but with time and patience, it can be done. And it sounds as if you are making excellent progress with Roxy.
        The thing about dogs who have sort of “shut down” is that they are just like people who have been abused: some make a full recovery, and some do not. When we adopt out those super scared dogs, we always tell the adopters that they have to be willing to live with the behavior they are seeing, because we can’t guarantee it will improve. It almost always does, but we don’t know that for sure. I’m so glad to see that Roxy is responding to you, and my only advice would be to just keep doing what you are doing. Move slowly, let her progress at her own pace (a sense of control helps dogs overcome fear) and let her realize that she has nothing to fear in your home. And most of all, bless you for taking her on and giving her a good home!!!!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hi Ann, what you wrote was so interesting, thank-you for sharing it with me! Everyone agrees that Roxy is shy, yet she doesn’t seem so damaged that she is incapable of trusting people. She has done many things that have endeared her to the family, which is really nice to see. We interpret her following our grandson around and sleeping next to his bed as signs of concern for him, which kind of surprised everyone considering how shy she was at first.
        Maybe we are overthinking all the signs; nobody really knows how she was treated or how much attention she ever received at the breeder’s kennel. She doesn’t watch our hands constantly and doesn’t seem to mind being right in the middle of the commotion, so in reality, she’s doing quite well!
        Just like you say, some people recover well, some don’t, and your point makes sense that dogs are similar in that respect. I can tell Roxy enjoys her life here with us and Champ, our other Shiba. We really bought her as a companion for him, and it has worked out beautifully. Thank-you for your comments on Roxy and on dogs in general. It’s an interesting topic for me and I really enjoy reading your thoughts on the subject! Des

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I have long since learnt that there’s no point even asking husband to come along as a reluctant plus one.
    I love that you had a good evening, & how far Roxy has come.
    I hope you were indeed well enough for Christmas. & that the virus is gone before touching anyone else. Best wishes.

    Liked by 2 people

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