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Going Pagan

Merry Winter Solstice! Last weekend we hosted our annual Solstice Soup and farm stand. In spite of the rain, it was still a fun time. The Soup began in 2012 when, faced with a surplus of storage crops, Dan and I calculated that we could clear out the walk-in cooler if we lured people in with free butternut squash soup. Seven years later, what began as a small, bring-your-own-bowl event has evolved into a multitude of soups, a fully stocked farm stand, and a bulk sale. Not surprisingly, there’s still a surplus at the end. This, in turn, had prompted Dan to suggest that we continue selling deeper into the winter. For now, I’m content to let him go it alone while I attend to Christmas cookies. Once January rolls around, I may be in a different frame of mind.

Solstice Soup, 2018

Solstice Soup, 2014

The true solstice was yesterday, and I could have burned the house down with a candle show to rival Times Square. Despite his Catholic upbringing, Dan has long expressed a preference for pagan tradition. He once even threatened to boycott Christmas and host a competing solstice party of his own (I told him to set a table for one). Yet with so many things involving Dan, what starts out seeming ludicrous ends up making complete sense in the end. Given that farmers literally set their calendars by the sun, it should come as no surprise that they would celebrate both its zenith and nadir. For myself, after months spent working in the sun among plants, it’s no wonder than I’d want to bring both greenery and light indoors in the depths of winter. And so it goes that with each passing year, I appreciate the winter solstice and its corresponding rituals more and more. While our extended families will always gather for Christmas, Dan and I now make it a point to invite our farm crew over for the solstice. This year we were especially happy to be joined by former apprentices Noreen Hussein and Zsofi Bodnar, whose seven-month-old son, Nalan, held court over everyone. It was wonderful to reunite with friends, and to fulfill Dan’s long-held wish that we celebrate the solstice on its actual date. At this dark, barren time of year, what better way to celebrate the return to the sun or a savior’s birth than with greenery, light, and friends?

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