This first photo is of the rising moon last evening - the moon that would become a rare full moon on the day of the Winter Solstice, and even more rare, a moon which would soon be in total eclipse. Went outside at about 3:20 AM 12/21 to see the shadow of our Earth on the surface of the moon. The air was winter crisp and dry, the sky black, the stars (and Jupiter) twinkling. Could see my breath, and heard an owl hooting. A time of cosmic mystery and magic - explained in some ways perhaps by modern science, but the secret thrill can't be so glibly parsed. Sometimes an accurate description of a fact doesn't really explain it on an inner and personal level.
To celebrate the Winter Solstice, I have of late been making a Buche de Noel, or Yule log cake. (See photos which follow) It is a chocolate confection composed of sponge cake rolled around chocolate whipped cream and iced with a chocolate buttercream. This year's meringue 'mushrooms' weren't quite as pretty as they sometimes turn out, but they taste just as yummy as ever! The dessert is quite a bit of work and involves many bowls, pans, beaters, sticky counter tops and probably uses more electrical energy than is green, but making this cake connects me in yet another way to the mystery of the seasonal patterns, and to the ancients who must have awaited the return of longer days with great relief. Lacking a fireplace in which to burn a real Yule log, making the cake serves as a reminder to appreciate each season of the year as it passes, and also to celebrate each season of my life - past, present and future.