This time of year people often set new year's intentions. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I’m neither here nor there on it. And one of the reasons is that the gardener in me doesn’t actually believe that we are in a New Year.
In the Northern Hemisphere where our Gregorian calendar originated, right now people are tucked up in their warm houses, the hard work is complete, the harvest is well and truly in, and now is the time to be feasting and celebrating surviving another year. Winter solstice was celebrated by the Celts as a time of rebirth and renewal, and occurred on their shortest day, the 21st or 22nd of December, to celebrate the return of the light as days gradually become longer.
But here in Aotearoa, the 21st or 22nd of Dec is when we observe our longest day, or summer solstice instead. For me in the garden, it’s actually one of my busiest times!
In December my tomatoes needed staking, tying up, feeding, watering, and mulching. All my garden beds needed an extra layer of mulch to help keep the water in the ground, and all of the final seedlings from the greenhouse had to be put in the ground before it got too hot to plant.
Then there is the harvesting! Zucchini, lettuces and strawberries had to be picked on a daily basis, and the whole garden checked over regularly to spot any ripe produce. And what do you do with all that produce? You either eat it, give it away, or preserve it. And that takes a fair bit of work to wash, cut, boil and bottle the produce before it goes to seed or rots. Ripe beetroot waits for no one!
So then right in the middle of all this hive of activity in the garden, we take a holiday and proclaim “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
Excuse me if I don’t feel like celebrating and making New Year intentions right yet, it feels too early.
Right now our days are long and nights are short. The weather is hot and I want to be outside a lot, swimming, being active, and making the most of the beautiful weather. It honestly doesn’t feel like the time to sit around and reflect on the year passed.
To me, that’s why Matariki (as the Māori New Year) resonates so much. Tūpuna Māori followed the seasons much in the same way my ancestors did. Once the harvest was in and the hard work all done, then came the time to feast, stay warm together, play games and have fun inside, reflect, remember those who had passed, and create new intentions for the future. Matariki happens in the winter, near our shortest day, and to me, seems like the perfect time to set new years intentions.
So to be honest, I’ll probably get with the programme and set some intentions and sankalpa (more on that next blog post) for 2021 cause that’s the yearly calendar Aotearoa chooses to observe.
But I’ll also continue to listen to the quiet rhythms of the earth for guidance.
“Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua” ~ People fade from view but the land remains.