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Connected Advent

We can't believe it, we're already over halfway through our advent calendar. As this is published there is just one week to go before the Winter Solstice, that point of the year where the wheel turns and we head out of the darkness and (very slowly) back towards the light. To quote Kari Leibowitz, winter expert who we have mentioned here before: "Remember that evenings by candlelight are a gift of winter’s darkness, and allow yourself to pause for a moment as you light them." Throughout the dark months she writes a fortnightly newsletter, The Wintry Mix, full of gentle prompts to help keep the spirits up in Winter.

Various festivals of light are celebrated around this time, Diwali happened in November, Hannukah is just drawing to a close and with twinkling Christmas lights in many windows, it's hard to deny that this season is all about celebrating light in the darkness. There are sources of natural light too: the Geminids meteor shower, famous for its multicoloured streaks of light, will peak on Thursday and Friday this week. The BBC has a great article about how to look for them here. It's a good excuse to go and stand outside looking to the sky - how better to connect with nature in Winter? Well perhaps going for a walk (soon to feature in the advent calendar) works for you. There are plenty of Local Nature Reserves ready and waiting to welcome you, and there are lots of walks on Go Jauntly in both South and North Lanarkshire that are worth a look. Baron's Haugh is particularly impressive at this time of year with flocks of wintering ducks including wigeons and whooper swans joining the usual residents to feed on the flooded meadows. One of our South Lanarkshire walks takes you from Carluke Station to the Milton Local Nature Reserve, with a boardwalk it's accessible for wheeling as well as walking. Through our Smarter Choices Smarter Places project with South Lanarkshire Countryside Rangers we have been very lucky to work with Alec Findlay the artist in residence at Paths for All. The walking group that meet there have been his muse and he has been writing poems based on the seasonal changes they notice each time they visit. There will be more exciting news about this in Spring. On the subject of poetry, Alec has just published a blog called the Three Friends of Winter. This is based on an ancient Chinese art motif combining the pine, bamboo and plum, three plants that the Chinese noticed did not wither in winter unlike other plants. Alec has gathered a selection of his own and other people's three friends of winter. As we head towards Solstice, perhaps now would be a good time to think about what you would choose as your three friends of winter. Copying Alec's formatting:

these are Get Outdoors Lanarkshire's

   the smell of fir trees

three friends 

   cinnamon tea

of winter

   & moonlight

Check out Alec's blog Day of Access for more nature and walking related art projects. To finish, all of us at Get Outdoors Lanarkshire wish you a peaceful festive season and much moonlight, fir trees and cinnamon.

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