The Call of Winter

Dec 06, 2022

Photograph by Jonathan Knepper

A moment of stillness made me take pause amongst the holiday frenzy and embrace life and its gifts in a new way

On a recent early morning walk to the café, I had the most extraordinary/ordinary experience. The streets were empty and quiet as if I had the sweet town to myself. It was almost as if time stopped and sped up at the same time. Nothing happened and everything happened. My senses were heightened, my heart opened. The sky was bright and clear. The air was crisp and fresh. I felt light on my feet and curiously playful and delighted — enlivened and full of energy.

It was as if within this short distance, I found expansion in between the moments.

I asked myself why? What’s different? 

December, my spirit whispered. Aaaah. Yes. I nodded. That time again. I felt a bit giddy...and it had nothing to do with Santa.

While this is a time that has everyone running in circles checking tasks off to-do lists, shopping, planning and prepping for the holidays, for me, much like a mama bear I am ready to hibernate. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the holidays, I’ve just found a new way to engage with them. Part of me wants to be invited to every dinner party and gathering — and the other wants to snuggle in on my new sofa under a cuddly throw blanket with two cats nestled in beside me. I don’t want to miss out, but my spirit cries out for reprieve.

Winter solstice is peeking out from around the corner reminding us that this is a time of endings and beginnings of seasons, holidays and calendar is also a time that resonates deeply with my Scorpio soul. What recharges your batteries? Try leaning into it this month differently...yes, even amidst all this festivity. Who says we can’t have our vegan cake and eat it too!

When we listen to the cadence of our bodies, there is great wisdom to be found.

My nervous system exhales and has time to settle. The daylight is dramatically shorter, and it feels like the darkness beckons me to change my pace. I bet you can relate. This shift initially hits us like a ton of bricks, but soon we find ourselves in sync going with its flow. 

My body follows its lead and reminds me it wants to rest and stay put a little longer — more time in bed, more savoring my food, more languishing over a good book and a hot cup of tea, more daydreaming, more appreciating, more time to share and talk...and mingle with you in the cafe. I love being able to pull up a chair for an impromptu conversation. It is a time of deeper connection to everything. 

When we rush about caught up within the frenzy of day-to-day obligations, we miss the little slices of grace sprinkled about. I was so grateful for that moment of recognition — grateful to my body for all of its hard work keeping me healthy and strong, a gift I try not to take for granted.

This body carried me through the busy months of summer and helped pay the winter bills. It is why I work hard to stay committed to listening to when it needs me to move at a different setting. These magical in-between moments reconnect us to ourselves and the environment around us. We begin to see and feel things we had forgotten. The world tastes different and the heart expands.

Photo Bill Miles

Just this past week, our community lost quite an unusual and magical character — someone who had become a part of the fabric of our lives — someone we called ‘Jogger John’. A 30+ year iconic fixture in Woodstock, he could be found up and down the streets of town sweeping the sidewalks, shoveling snow, riding his bike...or just jogging on by on any given day. Sometimes he spoke gibberish, other times his words felt like wise sermons on the mount. 

Each day he popped in for a fresh juice and a couple of apples, sometimes a meal — always a conversation about the health benefits of Himalayan salts. We took care of each other and nurtured one another in our own ways. He passed away suddenly, a shock felt throughout our community. Over the course of the last days, townspeople have been communing on the ‘Green’, our town center, to honor him. There is a collection of brooms and shovels left resting upon his bike. The sidewalks will never look or feel the same again without his energy. 

I am breathing in this sadness for his passing with a full heart knowing I was touched by his presence — because I was present. These are the true gifts. And as my dear friend and local, somatic therapist and all-around creative wonder, Luis Mojica, sang in his song he wrote for John, “I would never know of the depth of my love for him until he left...isn’t that the gift of death?”  (CLICK HERE to listen to the song.)

I had to include this moving tribute here for you and for your heart, whether you knew John or not. “He swept our town, like some holy clown. He made us all sparkle.” 

Yes, December can feel like a mixed bag of emotions full of memories, traditions, loneliness, and bright shiny packages...kind of like life. Embrace it all. Honor the pace of winter and your soul...and remember new traditions are waiting to be born.

I’m so grateful for this life and all that it constantly presents me with. I’m so grateful for YOU, my beautiful community. Winter Solstice blessings to you all — may sugar plums and sweet dreams dance in your head as you close out this year and recount all that you are grateful for.

Cheers 2022!

—Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstock

P.S. And how about those café windows? Our magical in-house beauty maker, Myoshin Thurman turned it out yet again. Stop by if you can, to breathe in her creative genius. It’s certainly beginning to look a lot like Christmas...


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