Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pools of Light

or Intensifying the Flame

Light is so cheap and easy these days.  You flip a switch and brightness leaps to do your bidding:  fluorescent, incandescent, LED, neon, halogen. Darkness has been consigned to the back of the closet, to the space under the bed with the dust bunnies.  It comes out to roam the house during our sleeping hours, but it doesn't govern our waking ones.  We can work or play games or read fluffy novels until 3:00 in the morning if we want to (or even later!), all without damaging our eyesight, because we have all the light we want at our disposal.

Before Thomas Edison changed the world, though, light was a precious commodity.  When night fell, darkness waltzed right indoors as if it owned the place.  It reigned everywhere except in the small pools of luminance that radiated around a flame.  One way to broaden those pools was to place a candle in front of a reflective surface—a metal wall sconce, perhaps, polished to a shine—that would intensify both the flame and the hazy glow around it.

Sand lovegrass (Eragrostis trichodes) with silky threadgrass (Nassella tenuissima) behind

Light at the end of December is still a precious commodity, no matter what electricity can accomplish indoors.  We may have turned the corner, as one of my friends always says; we may have passed the solstice, putting the longest night behind us and turning eagerly once again toward the light; but just barely.  The days will begin to stretch out longer in front of us, but so far the difference is still imperceptible:  tomorrow will have only a few seconds more daylight than today.  We appreciate those things that intensify the sun, that broaden its pool of influence, that give the chill light of winter a little of the hazy glow of warmth.

This is the time of year for celebrations of light. To those of you who join me in celebrating the Light come among us, the birth of the Christ child, I wish you a very merry Christmas!  To those of you from other traditions, I open my arms in warmth and friendship.  May it be a time of joy for us all.

A time to intensify the flame.


  1. 'I burn my candle at both ends'
    And only later in life begin to read what havoc that wreaks with our melatonin and hormones. This night owl tries hard, but I ALWAYS go to bed tomorrow.
    Happy Christmas, Stacy!

  2. There was a TV series in the UK called the Victorian Farm which was basically trying to live as the would have done in the 19th century. They had to get so much done during daylight hours and sewing by candlelight - very difficult. I'm an early bird and I love the longer days.
    Enjoy the Festive season, Stacy.

  3. Joy and light to you, Stacy. May the lengthening days be filled with a little glowing magic.

  4. I do so love candle light and have been reminded of our luxury of light when the power goes out. I try to keep the lights out even now so we can appreciate the days and the lengthening of them over time....Stacy, Happiest of Holidays, Merry Christmas and my wish to you for a fabulous New Year!!

  5. Whenever I see you have a new post my heart skips a beat and I can't wait to read it. Your words wrap around me and I am always drawn into your beautiful photographs.

    Thank you for reminding us all what Christmas is really all about, and for not apologizing for it. Merry Christmas and every blessing for the New Year.

  6. Dear Stacy, Lovely thoughts . . . a unique way of thinking of light as we celebrate this time of year. Always a pleasure to read your words if by the light ( that nearly torments me) of my computer screen. Beautifully written. Wonderfully lit photo too.

  7. Gosh, it's been a very long time since I stayed up till 3am reading a good book. I think it's about time I did so again. A beautiful and warm (and radiant) post, Stacy. Thank you and a very Merry Christmas to you.


  8. It has been a very long time since i thought about life before light bulbs. Even today, though, we are affected by the darkness. I find myself a bit more depressed with the shorter days, and look forward to the days' lengthening, even if it's just a short period of time. Surely if the creatures and plants recognize the change, our bodies realize it, too. Perhaps that's why people instinctively yearn for God - their bodies realize He is there, even if we can't see Him. I always love to read your blog posts - they make me stop and think. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

  9. Merry Xmas Stacy, reading your posts always lightens my spirit. Looking forward to reading more next year.

  10. Stacy, I look forward the day after solstice annually with the knowledge that the days are getting longer.

    Hope you have a Merry Christmas!

  11. Beautiful photo and thoughts! May you have a blessed Christmas!

  12. Light is all the more appreciated when it rises from darkness. A sunrise is a beautiful example, awe inspiring and breathtaking. It is always a treat to read your posts. Have a very Merry Christmas filled with light and joy.

  13. Merry Christmas, Stacy -- and here's to a light-filled 2012! -Jean

  14. Diana, it takes a good book to have me up until tomorrow. Night owl or early bird—those are hard rhythms to change. I hope you and Jurg had a wonderful Christmas, too!

    Janet, after reading your comment I looked up that TV series, and it's available on YouTube—and mighty addictive it's proving... I hope you and P and Freia have been out enjoying some festivities yourselves.

    Zoe, what lovely wishes—thank you, and cheers. Here's to a little glowing magic for us all.

    Donna (GEV), you've inspired me to light some candles. I lost the habit when I had a dog whose enthusiastic tail was right at coffee table/candle height and somehow never picked it back up again. Enjoy these lengthening days—even a few seconds count... Thanks so much for your good wishes, and a fabulous new year to you as well! I hope it's full of your favorite kinds of adventures.

    Karen, you're so kind—I can't tell you how tickled I was to read that. Thank you! A wonderful new year to you and your family—may the deer behave themselves.

    Carol, I'm so glad you were able to stop by and comment, and glad you took pleasure in the post. Warmest wishes to you for all good things this year.

    Dave, I haven't stayed up that late over a book in a while either. It always seems like such a good idea at the time... Thank you—I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and time away.

  15. Holley, there's just no substitute for the sun, is there—no matter how many bright lights we surround ourselves with indoors, the early darkness is still a little oppressive. I always love the first day when you suddenly realize that it's x o'clock and still light out, after all those little minutes of difference have finally added up to a big chunk of time. And I like that idea of a physical awareness of the pull toward Life. Warmest wishes to you for a beautiful new year.

    b-a-g, I'm glad to hear that—hope you enjoyed a lovely holiday.

    GirlSprout, tomorrow will have 23 seconds more daylight—woo hoo! (And I'm not even being sarcastic.) Have a great new year.

    Deb, thank you—and a joyful new year to you!

    Donna (GWGT), yes—we wouldn't appreciate those long days of summer nearly as much without the memory of the short days of winter. Thank you—wishing you plenty of light and joy in the new year as well.

    Jean, hear, hear!

  16. I hope you have had a great holiday. I've just selected you for a Liebster Blog Award. Your blog is one of my favorites to read. Here is an excerpt from my post

    The idea of the Liebster Award is to get the word out about blogs you love to read. The rules are simple:

    1) List five blogs you enjoy reading.
    2) Let the author know you've selected them for the award.
    3) Copy and paste the award to your blog.
    4) Hope the recipients will pass it along to their five favs.

    Microcosm: Another blog I've been following for about a year. Stacy is another CFS/ME sufferer who lives in New Mexico. However, instead of writing about her illness she writes about her little corner of the planet. She has a lovely enclosed garden that she tends when she can and she occasionally ventures out into the surrounding parks. I absolutely adore her writing and her photography is amazing. It is a true pleasure to read her posts.

  17. Baffled, I'm so touched--thank you! I'll be over to Infinite Daze ( to comment further.