As I write this, dawn is coloring the sky on a cold, solstice
morning. The snow is shadowed with lavender, tree silhouettes are sharp before the pale orange sky. Already the birds are moving into the feeders: nuthatches, goldfinches, juncos, chickadees, titmice and a cardinal darting in and out, the only movement on the frozen landscape. It's like that moment just after you inhale, and everything is still, before you exhale... and yet, life keeps pulsing and darting and flitting through that moment. Irrepressible. It's not a simple metaphor for me, because I want to sit with that moment-of-the-held-breath idea, and I want to go with the life-keeps-going idea, and I can't have both at the same time. And yet, here it is in front of me.
     I have an intention. I'm going to write about my amazing, beautiful, miraculous terrarium this winter, and let it be a conscious teacher for me. Already it is a source of joy. But I want to dive into it in a more humble, transparent way, as a student before a teacher. Writing is one of my pathways into my own spirit, and by doing so publicly, it's like I'm sitting on that cusp of transformation that is the solstice, that is the moment between inhalation and exhalation: I'm taking the unformed but incubating thoughts within and bringing them into the light.
     Get ready for a winter of metaphors. 
     So my terrarium. 
     Here it is when I set it up in early December:

There's partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) in the front left corner, bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) at the end of the arching stem behind, the tall thing I think is Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora),

then on the right side there's some moss  (I'm not sure which moss, does anyone know?), a white pine seedling in the back right corner, and some woodland grass, possibly Carex pensylvanica in the front right. 
     However, the magic is in what we don't see. I put this together on December 6. It looked like a still life for almost two weeks. Then things began to emerge. This is what I love! The possibility! This happens every spring out there beyond the window, in the woods, without fail, and who is lying on the ground day after day to observe it? I feel so blessed to be able to witness it in here on my window sill. The birth of possibilities. It leaves me speechless. And yet trying to give it words pushes me into being more conscious, and this takes me deeper.
     Here is the terrarium today, on the solstice:

                                         Do you see the new spear of grass,


the thing that might become a Canada mayflower but is still a mystery,


                                          the snail,

the woodland bug that looks like a piece of old pine needles? 

     What a miracle! No metaphors right now, just sheer joy in the becoming that is happening before my eyes. Our eyes. 

     Happy solstice.