Sounds of the winter holidays: Connecting with nature during Winter Solstice
Four-year-old Ruthie scraped the last bit of sunflower butter into a corner of a shallow dish. She spread the glob onto a pinecone, and rolled it in a small mound of seeds.
“What are we going to do with these?” a teacher inquired of Ruthie.
“Give them to the birds,” she replied excitedly.
These cones are for the birds – because they’re DIY bird feeders.
It was a Winter Solstice activity for the young children in the pre-K Whole Child Program at Louisville nonprofit Side by Side. The craft was a way for them to connect with nature, and that connection is central to celebrating this part of the year.
“At Solstice time we kind of think about what’s going on with the animals… things that you might find in nature,” teacher Susie Roethgen said.
This month, LPM News is exploring the sounds and melodic rituals of the winter holiday season. For the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, students, teachers and staff at Side by Side spoke about how this annual abundance of darkness is also a celebration of family, nature and the coming light.
Kim Frazier-Pirog, Side by Side’s executive director, added that on the other side of this longest, darkest night is light.
“I think the Winter Solstice is a grounding celebration. It’s like a warming feeling,” she said.
For some, the holiday season can be a challenging time, Frazier-Pirog continued.
“Whereas this is a celebration where we’re celebrating love and light.”
“And hope,” Roethgen chimed in.
Meanwhile, kids dressed in puffy coats and mittens got ready to take the bird feeders outside.
Teachers lifted some of them up, so they can hang the feeders on high, bare branches, a warm moment amid the frigid air.