Friday, August 24, 2012

From Brigid's Hearth with Love

The weather here in northern Delaware has finally turned from scorching hot to comfortably seasonable.  We are still picking baskets of tomatoes, but the yield has declined just slightly.   As I process them for soups and sauces, my mind is already looking forward to Mabon and out annual trip to the orchard for glorious fresh Honeycrisps and Ginger Golds to turn onto apple sauce and pies. 

And, of course, summer’s end means back to school. My youngest and I visited her first grade class room, met her teacher, and signed up for after school activities.  For my three homeschooled boys, this week first week of school brought them back into daily math, and language arts, but it also means that they'll soon be out on Hawk Watch Hill at Ashland Nature Center participating in the annual migratory Monarch butterfly and raptor counts.   Hawks and eagles circle and stream--sensing the time has come to move south with the passerine migrations. 

The local countryside is transitioning as well. Cicadas crescendo everywhere. Bees and insects are busy among Goldenrod and Asters--flowers that make the end of summer and the beginning of the harvest season.  Late afternoon sunlight is already taking on the rich honey-gold luminescence you don't find at any other time of year.

And, after much weeding, thinning composting, and tending Solstice Moon Solstice Sun is almost ready for printing.  What a harvest it will be! 


There are many people who have supported us and I am grateful to all of you who encouraged us with words, thoughts, and donations as we worked to make this book a reality.


Special thanks to my daughter Ellen for being the amazing artist and person that she is.  There would be no book without her.  Special thanks also to my loving and generous niece Lauren Geaghan, graphic designer extraordinaire, who took over the task of making sure that Solstice Moon Solstice Sun is ready for the printer and brought us through this last leg of the pre- publishing journey.   And  thank you to Brigid, our patroness,  who inspired and tended our creative fires and guided the forging and crafting of our words and images.


As a special thank you for reading and supporting, here is one of Ellen’s stunning visuals.



PS Don’t forget the launch.  November 2, 2012—5-8 pm. Film Brothers Co-op.  2nd & Market Streets.  Wilmington DE

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The "Why" & "Wherefore" of Solstice Moon Solstice Sun

“Changeless, yet changing, from mountain to shore,

a circle of wonders for us to explore!”

Solstice Moon Solstice Sun

The first of the Wheel of the Year books, Solstice Moon Solstice Sun tells the story of  one of nature’s  great turning points--when the hemisphere experiencing the winter solstice turns from the darkness of the longest night towards longer days and the promise of spring. 

The winter months are a time of rest, when the Earth’s energy is stored in roots and within the slowed metabolisms of hibernating animals.  All life must adapt or perish.  Just like little Owlet, winter can weigh us down and we need reassurance that balance will be restored as earth circles the sun. 

Like Owlet and his mother, our ancestors, were keenly aware of the natural world. They told stories to explain the transition and observed the winter solstice with festivals such as Yule and Saturnalia.

Along with humorous touches (Mama Owl’s fluffy pink slippers and a mouse infested house) Solstice Moon Solstice Sun features traditional symbols and powerfully symbolic characters.

The Characters—touching past traditions while relating to the present

Solstice Moon Solstice Sun’s animal characters and woodland setting were inspired by the gently rolling countryside of the Brandywine River Valley and characters from European folkways that are part of our heritage.

Owlet: Like any little one, Owlet misses his friends (who are hibernating), is tired of cold, gloomy days, and longs for a change in his routine. He reaches to his mother for a reassurance that the seasonal cycle will continue and that he will be reunited with his friends.   

Mama: A wise owl mommy, she knows that words alone aren’t enough for a little person and takes him into and through the heart of nature-- a sacred space--to experience the change. Owlet follows with perfect trust.

The Mice and Owlet’s friends: Children will adore finding the mice hiding in every illustration and will giggle at the illustrations of the Bear and Woodchuck families.

Ellen’s magnificent illustrations of the Oak King, the Holly King, and the Lady reflect the strong spiritual and cultural traditions this time still holds for many.

The Holly King: Lord of the Winterwood, The Holly King represents withdrawal and rest—the dark half of the year when the sun’s light is waning (mid-summer solstice to winter solstice). He also represents the old year and the sage. Traditions like displaying holly sprigs come from the Holly King legend. The Holly King is also depicted as Father Christmas (or Santa Claus), driving a sleigh pulled by eight stags/reindeer, dressed in long robes with a crown of holly on his hair. His plant is the holly.

The Oak King: Lord of the Greenwood, the oak king represents growth and expansion-- the light half of the year when the sun is waxing in strength (from the winter solstice to the mid-summer solstice).  In this story he also represents the newly-born New Year.  His plants are the oak and mistletoe (another symbol of this season).

The Lady: Lady of the Greenwood/Lady of the Winterwood, Mother Nature, Mother Earth. However your tradition chooses to interpret her, she gives birth to the child of promise and hope.

Solstice Moon Solstice Sun nurtures a conscious connection to nature

As Earth revolves around the sun, each object and living thing tells endless and varied stories that help us understand the wonders of our planet and our connections to what exists upon it and beyond it.

If we’re patient and attentive, we often discover the greatest lessons and wonders in the smallest things—a snowflake—a butterfly sipping nectar from a flower growing in a window box, and sometimes a huge event is as quietly glorious  as the sun rising a minute earlier in a  pale winter sky.

Solstice Moon Solstice Sun fulfills a need within the community

Solstice Moon Solstice Sun fulfills a need for well written, beautifully illustrated stories that help children dream, wonder,  explore, and love  the natural beauty all around them—even in the midst of a city. For what they love, they will fight to preserve and protect.

The purpose of our stories and illustrations is to recapture, in some small way, a toddler’s wonder and joy as he plucks a dandelion, blows, and watches the fluff soar away on the breeze.

As followers of nature-based spirituality, it is our duty to nurture this wonder and, in the process, to refresh and strengthen our own awareness and connection to the Earth. 

Spend time talking with  your child about Solstice Moon Solstice Sun’s pictures and words, about the characters and how they feel, how the events reflect the  passage of the seasons, and how this story relates to their own life and experience.   Like Mama Owl, take your child into nature.

Opportynity Grant

Great news!  The Delaware Division of the Arts just awarded us an Opportunity Grant for Solstice Moon Solstice Sun!  The book should be in our hands by mid-September!  I've put up the PayPal info on the sidebar :-)