Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Winter Solstice

Saturday December 20-Sunday December 21, 2014
Oscar Scherer State Park
Osprey, Florida


Winter Solstice Eve

It is the day before Solstice and we’re getting ready to pick up Carrie at the Tampa Airport this evening.   I head out to the Venice Farmer’s Market to pick up some local citrus, strawberries and tomatoes among other things.







Plant City Strawberries are available here too.




Then I hustled up to Whole Foods to complete my grocery shopping for the visit.   Then it’s time to fill Ruby up with gas and get back and started on the traditional Solstice Cake.   No pictures until it is “unveiled” but many of you have seen it in years past.  Or maybe even this past summer.

Sadly we just do not have time to get over to the drum circle for the drumming down of the sun on Solstice Eve.  That’s the only part of my plan that didn’t go well.  I wanted at least an hour to party and participate in a Solstice Celebration. 

But it didn’t happen.  Our last stop is to get Carrie a Subway sandwich since she won’t have eaten since 2:00 this afternoon.   Then we are on our way up I75.   It’s 75 miles to the Tampa Airport.  Unfortunately she couldn’t get a flight at the closer Sarasota Airport.

It’s the longest darkest night of the year.  Not only is this Winter Solstice Eve but it is also the New Moon.  Dark, dark, dark even on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay it looks very dark.  But the bridge looks almost magical.








We arrive at the airport and after reading all the signs for this airline and that airline and which terminal to go to, we do not see Southwest so we have to drive by the terminals to see which one we need to be at.  Around and around we go.  Finally we see it, around once more to short term parking and we’re inside.  Luckily we are early enough to get parked and at the gate in time.

And then, here she comes.



As the Winter Solstice as been approaching we have noticed the days getting shorter and shorter, the darkness is longer and longer.  This happens no matter where you are in this hemisphere even in the south.  But here in Florida we don’t have the other aspects of the darkening days – the cold weather, the bare trees and sometimes the snow.  While I don’t mind missing those things so much, I do miss the quiet, the firelight, and knowing the seeds in the garden are tucked away and waiting fro the spring.  Here on the road the shortened days, the black darkness, the bright stars and the ease with which we can be up for sunrise and also see sunset are now our reminders that the wheel is turning and things are changing.

Though I have always appreciated the changing of the seasons, I also have always struggled with the desire to hurry from autumn to spring to avoid the months of cold and days and days of endless gray skies and dimmed light.  Each day seems shorter and shorter and yet winter has its positive aspects too.  It reminds us to slow down, to look inside, to take the measure of our lives.  These things are easier to be mindful of if I haven’t “escaped the winter”.

Winter Solstice is the return of hope as the Earth begins the first slow turn to greater daylight.   On this dark Winter Solstice Eve is a pretty joyful occasion for us. A bright light has come to visit.




Today is the reason for the season!  If you are a purist, the Solstice occurs at 6:03PM EST.  Today is the day when the sun stands still (the literal meaning of solstice). Today the north pole is angled farthest from the sun.  Every where north of the equator receives fewer hours of sunlight from a sun lower in the sky. 

I like to do our family gift exchange on Solstice day but this year we decide to do a triple birthday celebration instead.  My birthday was December 7, the new year begins December 21 and David’s birthday is January 8th.  Carrie has brought birthday presents.  So we’ll save the family love fest for an indoor day when it is raining or the temperatures are lower than the high 70’s predicted for today.


We start off our celebration with a bright cheery breakfast of pancakes and fruit.



Then it’s on to the beach where the sun has decided to hardly show its face on the Winter Solstice Day.  NO FAIR!



The gulf is warm enough to walk in but not to swim in, for us.  There are some kids splashing around though.



The temperature is great but the 14 mph winds make it feel a bit chilly. It’s still a fine day for reading and taking walks on the beach.  The high of 77 is a far cry from the 39 degrees Carrie is missing at her home in Laurel Maryland. 




We are serenaded most of the afternoon by the royal tern kids.  Or that’s my assumption as these only slightly smaller terns follow a parent around constantly squawking for food.



The water glistens as the sun tries valiantly to break through the clouds.



Back at the house dinner is soup, salad and rosemary garlic bread.






And then comes the cake.  This is what we were hoping the sky would look like today.


Carrie says I should cut us some small pieces, so I do.  But it turns out she didn’t really mean it.



It was determined we needed another piece and David cut this one.




Look at how fast this cake is disappearing in the first round.  HA!   But it must be good, they are licking their fingers.




Then it’s time for presents.  This is great!   I get to do my birthday again.  Actually this date is my mother’s birthday and I sure wish she was here to celebrate her 91st with all of us.   Isn’t it a pretty package?


Have to read the sweet card first.  Pretty Package!





And look at this.  It’s PERFECT!   Can you read the quote on the front of this blank book?  I can hardly wait to begin using it.  THANK YOU CARRIE!   You’re the BEST!!




And then it’s David’s turn.  He gets an early birthday present.   He reads his card first too.  But where is the present?




Well inside the card of course.   And they both know what it is before he even opens the little red envelope.



His daughter has bought him a gift card for that store which sells the evil brew.  Makes him happy!!



We finish off our night with some vintage Christmas cartoons. Many of them weren’t actually the short cartoons that we were expecting but more like 30 minute specials in the vein of A Charlie Brown Christmas.   Can’t say I’d recommend them.  They are just a little too dated but it was fun for David and I to see Howdy Doody, Buffalo Bob and Clarabelle again in Howdy Doody’s Christmas.  The 3 take a rocket to the North Pole to rescue Santa Claus.  Pretty funny.   Anybody else old enough to remember Howdy Doody?   I think I was 4 or 5 when he was on.

And that’s a wrap for Day One of our Holiday Party!


  1. Looks like a great time and having Carrie with you makes it even better. Enjoy your time with her and Merry Christmas!

  2. It's wonderful to great old traditions with new twists. I love your new journal...it is all about the memories and squeezing all the enjoyment out of each day. So glad that Carri is there to enjoy the moments and greet the new years return.

  3. Looks like you all are having a great time.
    Merry Christmas!

  4. It looks like you're all enjoying yourselves. Have a Merry Christmas!

  5. Great blog! That cake looks great as does everything else :)

  6. Be careful not to have too much fun with Carrie. Winnona's walls can only withstand so much laughter! ;c)

    David and I share the same birthday! Who knew! :cD

  7. Great photos of all the happiness that is happening;o))

    We've had that cake and it is dangerously wonderful!!!

    Happy Birthdays and Solstice to ALL :o)))

  8. Yea!!! Carrie.... great pictures of the bridge and beach!!! happy Solstice and Birthdays!!!

  9. Isn't it wonderful to have your daughter come to visit? You will make the greatest use of your time together.

    I'm a "springtime" so I'm waiting for April, although I don't mind winter at all.

  10. Well Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring, I certainly do remember Howdy Doody! ;)

  11. What a nice celebration! How did you make the cake Esselstyn friendly? It looks yummy! I know the best present is having Carrie there. Have fun and enjoy each others' company! XXXOOO

  12. Love your sunny cake! Was a gray Solstice here in the desert but today more than made up for it. A great way to start off your family celebration.

  13. You're in a wonderful place to celebrate birthdays and Christmas with Carrie. I hope the sun comes out every day so that you will get some great beach time. Love the pictures of the Skyway. It's always such beautiful drive crossing that bridge, but I don't know if I've ever been on it at night.

  14. Looks like everyone is enjoying themselves, because of Dave's seasonal affective disorder (SAD) our whole family dreaded winters in VT. The time between Nov through Feb were always difficult, now that we're somewhere the sun shines this time of year life is so much better. Enjoy your birthday and holiday celebration with Carrie.

  15. The dancing lights of the bridge do indeed look magical - very Solstice Eve! Bummer you missed the drumming. I also missed the Spiral Dance this year :-( Living all my life where Summer is the more brutal season, and my early years where you can see the stars from horizon to horizon, I have welcomed the longer nights of Winter. Still, there's nothing like a mild, sunny day for sharing the outdoors with loved ones :-) I love the supper pic of Carrie and her dad - what great smiles! And the one of you and your gift with that glitter of tear in your eyes....precious. Love-fest indeed, I can feel it through the screen :-)) I need to incorporate a Solstice cake into our Solstice - I just love the idea of eating up that sun! Howdy Doody was just before my Saturday cartoon watching began - I think Captain Kangaroo may be my earliest. Holiday hugs to you all )0(

  16. What a sweet family celebration -- I love seeing the photos of your joy in being together. The journal Carrie gave to you is perfect!! I always remind myself of the positive aspects of winter, too -- right now in chilly Oregon, we're enjoying fires and cozy times indoors. Can't say it's been especially relaxing (you know why!) but it's definitely been exciting. We're getting settled into our new rig and hoping for some peaceful time before we take off in early January. Sending Solstice hugs!

  17. Sorry I'm so late in commenting, been a little busy :) Looks like you had a great Solstice as usual, topped off by Carrie being there! Enjoy the rest of her time there!!

  18. I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, Sherry and David! going to get caught up with blog reading this week… finally got mine caught up! driving me insane! … The pictures are awesome of the bridge! and hello Carrie … aw … there she is! I know our hearts soar … All your pictures are awesome, as always … that beautiful ol Gulf

  19. I lost my first comment again:(
    Anyhow, I was saying that the winter soltice was a great time for family bonding. Love the sun on the cake, and I bet the cake is delicious. The icing colors are so Florida and I wish for sun too.


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