All in a Day's Walk

A month-long slow food walking performance

Winter solstice

Solstice wreath 3

It’s the winter solstice which is the event I now choose to celebrate – with food, conviviality, warmth, gifts – as my mid-winter festival of choice. (Not that I’m completely bah humbug about the big C – I’m even walking to Putley for carol singing tonight.)  All in a Day’s Walk has thrown this into an even sharper focus this year – the presence of daylight (or not) has been very much present for me in my daily life in walking and even eating. Eggs – my precious only source of local protein – have been harder to come by, because the shorter days are also the reason why the hens on the farm are laying less. (A connection I hadn’t considered before.)

I’m not a very conscientious celebrant, but it feels important to mark this turning point – the ‘standing still of the sun’ – as I’m walking underneath it.

‘The great cosmic wheel of the year… the symbolic wheel of time is acknowledged here. Jul or Yule means wheel in Norwegian. Northern Europeans of our Celtic past believed this mystic wheel stopped briefly at this crucial point as one cycle ended and a new cycle of the sun began. It was taboo to rotate any wheels at the Winter Solstice, from cartwheels to butterchurns, as they waited for the return of the sun.

Evergreens are brought into the home at this time to represent everlasting life…Each of the evergreens has a deeper symbolism. Red holly berries represent the red female blood of life while the white mistletoe berries represent the the white semen drops of the life-giving male

There is an old tradition of making wheels of evergreens as we celebrate the wheel of the year turning once again towards the sun… ‘

Glennie Kindred (2001) Sacred Celebrations Glastonbury: Gothic Image

Over the past few days, my walking has allowed me to collect various evergreens and I make a solstice wheel from plaited ivy (Fownhope church wall, to be mildly subversive), holly (How Caple and Capler Camp – the iron-age hill fort above the farm), yew (Capler Camp) and mistletoe (Oldstone Farm orchard). I also make my first truly successful rye-spelt sourdough bread – coincidentally shaped into a wheel/ring so that it can cook more easily in my stove-top oven improvised from a cast iron casserole dish.

Solstice wreath 1

Solstice wreath 2

Sourdough ring

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