Our predawn bonfire celebrates the end of the year's longest night,
and the sun's ascent as the embers die.
Mich tends the fire while we stand vigil watching for the rising sun with Nakai's flute playing in the background.
Joan Gussow, our foundress, started this tradition. In 1995, a few Gardeners and her husband Alan met in their backyard on a very cold morning and stood around the fire burning in the barbecue pit while awaiting the sun. The following year Joan, with permission from the Fire Dept, built the bonfire in her driveway and opened it up to Gardeners and friends. One solstice, the embers were flying high and all over. A Piermont policeman was just coming off duty and stopped by to investigate. Joan went out to explain that we were cheering on the sun to come up. He encouraged us to carry on and drove off!
Dan Sherman spontaneously quoted Emily Dickinson at our gathering:
I’ll tell you how the sun rose -
A ribbon at a time.
The steeple swam in amethyst,
the news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
the bobolinks begun.
Then, I said softly to myself,
that must have been the sun.
But how he set I know not ...
A hot drink before smudging the Garden and each other at sunrise.
Some brought sweet bread and other delectables to share. Each person brought their own hot drink; others brought a poem or reading to share. Music was provided by Carlos Nakai's "Winter Dreams".
Sandy smudges Joan.
At sunrise, Sandy Sheridan introduced, as part of the event, the tradition of smudging the Garden and each other.
The sun is getting stronger. We'll have a garden this year again!
Mich and Dan walk the perimeter of the Garden.
Sandy carries the mullein torch as she blesses the Garden, walking the perimeter..