Sunday, November 20, 2011

The End of the Year

New Death Moon

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I just started my student teaching this week, or my "pre service teaching" as my University likes to call it (student teaching sounds too wimpy, they argue), and have been placed at a very small school in a rural community about an hour from my house. The early morning wake up is hellish, and the predawn drive a bit harrowing, but the school is very good and my cooperating teachers are going to work out really well. The real upside, besides finally getting into a classroom and beginning to actually teach, is my afternoon drives back through the farming country of the Willamette Valley. This is the land people crossed the mountains and deserts to get to, and still are, in fact (the town of Woodburn, about 40 minutes south of Portland, is the largest community in Oregon with over 50% of the population claiming Hispanic heritage). It is a beautiful country full of farms, fields and forests.

As I have been driving back and forth this week I have been noticing just how "done" the agricultural year is in the Willamette Valley. At the hop farms north of Woodburn the vines are all down and the tall support structures empty for the winter. There are many small farm stands along the way with signs up that say "Closed for the Winter", their vegetable patches empty and muddy. Alfalfa fields are mown and the rows of berry bushes are turning crimson and gold in the chilly nights. Higher up, closer to my school, most of the fields are either Christmas tree farms or horse, sheep or cattle pastures which are changing their character for the winter, too. The tall weeds are blackening and the grass is low and wet, just hanging on until spring. Horses have blankets on to ward off the chill and the sheep are woolly with their thick winter coats. One field of sheep has a guard llama in it and it took me two days to figure out exactly what that giant, woolly beast was. Everything is done growing and either dying back or just settling in for the winter. The people who work the land are settled in, too, or have moved on to other places where harvests are still happening. The land is just holding it's breath until the storms of winter come and, later, the renewal of spring.

It's the end of the cycle here at The Wheel and the Disk, too. This post marks the beginning of my fourth year of blogging. Again, this year, I posted for the new and full moon of every single month of the year plus at least one post for each eight solar holidays. In fact, I posted quite a few more posts than that, including two posts that were published in my Quaker Meeting's journal (here, and here) and two posts for Pagan Values Blogging Month (here, and here). Again, I celebrated Ramadan by finding meaningful information about Muslims, Islam and Ramadan and sharing it with my Facebook friends and then with you here at The Wheel and the Disk. My writings this year did an excellent job of highlighting the eclectic mix of inspiration I gather my own thinking from, including Quakers (and here, too), Catholics (and here, too), Buddhist stories, Greek mythology, Waldorf thought and practice and more modern stories, to name just a few. Some of my favorite posts from this year are the stories I wrote about Johnny Appleseed and Krishna and the Gopis. Neither of these stories are truly original - the plot and characters are as old as old can be - but I took them into my own self and brought them back out as original retellings.

This next year will be hard for me. One week into student teaching and I am already exhausted and overwhelmed. I wonder how this blog will fare when my time is so much more dedicated to teaching. I hope to keep writing both for myself and for you. I have seen my own thinking about the topics I explore deepen and broaden over the course of these three years and I want to keep exploring as long as I can. Next year, I would love to incorporate thoughts from another excellent book I have that is organized around the lunar months, Jessica Prentice's Full Moon Feast. She talks about seasonal food, community and connection through the lens of the seasonal round of moons. I think bringing this focus to my thinking, practicing and writing would be a wonderful challenge to align my life with my ideals about safe, sustainable and healthful food. I will take the year of blogging one step at a time, but promise to post something for each full and new moon, even if it is just a note or a photo.

As the land readies itself for the deep of winter, so do we. It is time to light our lanterns off the spark Michael took off the dying sun just those few weeks ago. It is time to bundle up, cuddle up and turn inward. Our season in the sun, expanded out towards the cosmos, has brought us a treasure trove of knowledge, now is the time to spend time working that into wisdom, as the gnomes work the sun's sparkling light into crystals during the winter.

How are you noticing the end of the year? What did you do in the last 12 months that you are most proud of, or from the last cycle you completed whether it took shorter or longer than 12 months? What wisdom did you bring back from your journeying and how are you lighting your lantern for the winter ahead? How has this blog touched you and your thinking? What would you like to see me think about, change or add next year? What was your favorite post from this last year?

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** This winter was tough and I got messed up in my calendar. This post was written at the right time for the right moon, but there are other posts dated the same time about a differen moon. What tha? Where was I?? For more on my thoughts about this, see this post. **
New Death Moon 2008: Time is a Circle

New Death Moon 2009: The Soldier and Death (another one of my all time favorite posts. I absolutely love this story, and am quite fond of my own retelling of it :)

New Death Moon 2010: Night and Day

I reviewed my first year of blogging at The Full Sorting Moon and my second year a Year Two Complete!

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