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A Year of Yes: Why the Winter Solstice is my favorite day of the year

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Central Park, Christa Avampato

See the little blue light in this photo? That’s hope. That’s the magic of the light returning to us today, the Winter Solstice. I didn’t see it when I first took the photo, only once I reflected on it.

The essay “Winter” by Nina Zolotow always reminds me what a gift winter is – a time we have to pause, reflect, and dream. I’ve re-read it dozens of times and it’s so powerful that I tear up every single time. I hope it gives you the same peace and relaxation it gives me in this long, cold, dark, and restful season of winter. Rest, my beautiful friends, and treasure the break from busy-ness that winter provides.

“In their garden there was always a wild profusion of tomatoes ripening on the vine, and leafy basil, arugula, and lettuce, and glossy purple eggplants, and red and yellow peppers, and zucchini with its long, bright blossoms, and there was always lunch at the wooden table on hot summer afternoons, with plates of pasta and bread and olives and salads with herbs, and many bottles of red wine that made you feel warm and drowsy, while bees hummed and the sprawling marjoram, thyme, and rosemary gave off their pungent fragrances, and at the end of the meal, always, inexplicably, there were fresh black figs that they picked themselves from the tree at the garden’s center, an eighteen-foot fig tree, for how was it possible – this was not Tuscany but Ithaca – Ithaca, New York, a rough-hewn landscape of deep rocky gorges and bitter icy winters, and I finally had to ask him – my neighbor – how did that beautiful tree live through the year, how did it endure the harshness of a New York winter and not only survive until spring but continue producing the miraculous fruit, year after year, and he told me that it was quite simple, really, that every fall, after the tree lost all its leaves, he would sever the tree’s roots on one side only and, on the tree’s other side, he would dig a trench, and then he would just lay down that flexible trunk and limbs, lay them down in the earth and gently cover them with soil, and there the fig tree would rest, warm and protected, until spring came, when he could remove its protective covering and stand the tree up once again to greet the sun; and now in this long gray season of darkness and cold and grief (do I have to tell you over what? for isn’t it always the same – the loss of a lover, the death of a child, or the incomprehensible cruelty of one human being to another?), as I gaze out of my window at the empty space where the fig tree will stand again next spring, I think, yes, lay me down like that, lay me down like the fig tree that sleeps in the earth, and let my body rest easily on the ground – my roots connecting me to some warm immutable center – luxuriating in the heart of winter.” ~Nina Zolotow, “Winter”

A Year of Yes: Feeling stuck in your writing? Go outside.

Despite the cold, my senior dog, Phineas, took me on a 2-hour hike through the North Woods of Central Park yesterday. The late afternoon light was just perfect. Time in nature is like a massage for the brain, heart, and spirit. It prompts my creativity. The movement jogs my imagination, restores my resolve to do work that builds a better world. If you need to be restored, get outside. Your restlessness has a purpose. It is meant to move you. Don’t fight it. Go with it. 

A Year of Yes: A tour of the North Woods of Central Park

Last Sunday, my dog, Phineas, and I took an invited tour through the North Woods of @centralparknyc. Though I’ve walked through there dozens of times for many years and am a proud donor to the park, I didn’t know the ins and outs of the design elements and how connected the design is to spirituality, art, and literature. It takes so much work, care, and knowledge to make a manicured place wild. I’m in awe of the incredible staff who works tirelessly to make the entire park such a special place for all of us. The city wouldn’t be the same with it! Huge thanks to Jessica, social media wizard at the Conservancy, and our incredible tour guides, Marieka and Juan. Check out all the available tours at www.centralparknyc.org/tours.

A Year of Yes: Supporting Central Park

Central Park after this week's storm.

Central Park after this week’s storm. Photo by me!

Central Park staff were out early this week cleaning up the park after the storm. Phineas and I spend a lot of time in this park, and we really appreciate everything that the staff does to keep this park the jewel of the city that it is. To thank and support them, I became a member. They are a big part of making this city such a wonderful place to call home.

In the pause: Happy Thanksgiving from New York City

23737930_10104014965393976_7867983202038481308_oA gorgeous and sunny Thanksgiving morning. Phin and I bundled up and went to Central Park. Thankful today for my sweet pup, Phineas, this gorgeous park, my homey Upper West Side neighborhood, and all dogs everywhere. And of course for all of you. Happy Thanksgiving. 🐾🦃

 

In the pause: I’m reading a chapter of my book for you from Central Park’s boat pond

I’ve got a treat for you this Halloween. I’m reading a chapter of my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, to you from Central Park. The park plays a key role in the book with many of the scenes taking place in and around it.

Davina and Samantha Dixon, the sisters who operate Books on the Run, interviewed me a few weeks ago and they asked me to record myself reading a chapter of the book so that they could share it with their readers. I loved doing that recording so much that I decided to record a few additional chapters to share with all of you.

I’ll be releasing one recording a week for the next few weeks from different locations. This week, I’ve got a chapter reading from the hill above the boat pond near 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

Pub Day is tomorrow so there will be lots of fun goodies in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

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