Updated: Feb 28
Happy Winter Solstice!
This is Kendra writing on a crisp, cold day in December, while two northern cardinals hop across my driveway in search of fallen seeds. I love their bright red feathers against the brown oak leaves scattered around. The world is full of small delights, which are often easier to spot with a more monotone and quieter backdrop, because they stand out. Winter provides this space naturally.
Photos: Inkberry + Red Cardinal eating seeds in snow.
The LadyBugs are taking more time this winter to rest and reflect on all the hard work we’ve done over the last season and past few years. Following the patterns of nature (biomimicry) is a foundational value in our work. When we want guidance on how to handle something during a season of life, we look to the local ecology in our Place and ask what it’s doing here and now.
So what’s happening this time of year around here? A few observations:
Baby, it’s cold outside… finally! It took a bit longer this year, but the cold is definitely here.
Evergreens take the spotlight, and white pine needles make a great tea rich in vitamin C!
Berries and seed heads are available for hungry birds and perennial plant stalks offer shelter for stem-nesting native insects, if we didn’t chop them down (wait til 50* days in spring).
Most deciduous leaves are on the ground, covering roots and earth with a great layer of insulation while slowly decomposing into nutritious soil for next year’s growth. With leaves down, we can see bird and squirrel nests more easily, but gaps in privacy, pollution and wind protection are more obvious than ever, drawing us indoors instinctually.
Predictions of rain and snow are increasing. January is the rainiest month of the year in PA!
As the ground freezes and thaws repeatedly, our native seeds that require “stratification” are being perfectly prepared for emergence and germination in spring.
Dec 21: Winter Solstice, the Earth is most inclined away from the sun, during its orbit.
Best time to take inventory, release old patterns, and open space for new life.
Dec 23: the darkest night of the year, when the new moon occurs during the longest night.
After this phase, the days actually start getting longer, moving us slowly toward spring.
It’s valuable to remember that we’ve already gone through the phase of decline, where the days get shorter, which happens from the summer solstice through fall - when darkness increases, leaves are falling and wildlife is preparing to survive harsher times. But considering the cycles of the Earth and Sun, winter solstice actually celebrates the return of the light, life and longer days. So don’t despair!
There is no such thing as bad weather.
Photos: Snowy northeastern forest + frozen pine.
Winter in PA, however, does get most intense from January through March. For much of nature, this is a time of hibernation, darker days, colder nights, and lots of rest, surviving in burrows and nests, sometimes under layers of snow and ice, coming out to search for berries and prey.
Perennial plants are mostly dormant, appearing dead, but simply storing energy in their roots, safe below ground, while offering their seed heads to song birds and stalks as shelter for some of our best pollinators. Our native plants, insects and animals are well adapted to this cycle of being less active in the winter.
Unfortunately, humans don’t follow this pattern as often. We are pushed into extra social celebrations, excessive consumption, data analysis, tax preparation, future planning, et cetera (whew!) - and to some degree, all those things are ok, and even beneficial. We love a good party with close friends and some decadent chocolate just as much as we love strategizing for a higher impact in our work with more sustainable systems and helpful offers.
But… this precious time of rest and reflection could be lost to those efforts and enjoyments entirely, if we aren’t intentional about taking time away from the hustle and bustle. That’s exactly what’s happened to us year after year, despite knowing better. So this year we are leaning into a healthier way and really pushing back on the pressures to do more, by choosing to do less.
We’re peering into the dark corners and closets of our business and lives, less with a predetermined goal of finding something specific, and more with a desire to learn from the areas that tend to be quieter. We already know that we do too much. We create a ton of content and projects every year that haven’t ever seen the light of day. We are eager to dig up some of those gems to share with you eventually. But for now, we are simply taking inventory. We are sitting with our business and our lives, in rest and reflection, offering our attention and observation.
Photos: LadyBug's library + a campfire by the Susquehanna River.
How did we learn how to do this?
By first learning it through our nature-connection practices. We aim to share more of these with you this year, but the core foundational EarthCare practice that fits most perfectly with the rest and stillness of winter is the Sit Spot. We know it’s harder to sit still for longer outside in the cold, but we challenge you to try it anyway, and see how you can adapt it seasonally.
This Winter Solstice, we want to inspire you to make some space to rest and reflect. Maybe you sit in a chair by a window where you’ve got a bird feeder or some winter berries growing outside attracting birds. Maybe you bundle up, go for a walk to warm up, and find a spot to sit near a trail of tracks in the snow and see who comes along. Maybe you forge a little fire and spend a few moments staring into the flames, letting go of the past. If you need more inspiration, we wrote a list because our community already asked: 18 Ways to Practice EarthCare and Connect with Nature over Winter.
However you do it, there’s no wrong way to simply observe and interact with nature and see what you learn. We trust that what we learn directly through nature will steer us in a direction that will be healthier and more beneficial for ourselves and the planet.
We truly hope you take even more time this winter beyond the solstice to be still, reflective and restful - and to really enjoy the wild world around you, whether you’re in the city or the country or anywhere between. Birds, insects and wildlife are surviving and thriving in so many creative and interesting ways, everywhere.
Feel free to share what you observe, witness and learn with us too! Send us photos and stories and little notes to firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to hear how this is going for you, and we might just ask you if we can publish something too!
Happy holidays, winter solstice and deep rest.
Kendra + The LadyBugs
More Winter EarthCare tips + resources:
→ Get the 2023 EarthCare Calendar for DIY tips, guidance + inspiration for every month to reconnect with Nature, build wildlife habitat and support pollinators - right where you are, with style + ease. ♡