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A Letter on the Winter Solstice

Friends,

Today marks the winter solstice: a specific moment in time when we are given a glimpse of hope in an otherwise dark and cold season. The beauty of being an oyster farmer is that you don’t need a calendar to know where you are in the season. That rhythm is effortless and comes as a reward for days spent outside feeling cold as shit and working hard to deliver the goods at a time when everyone clammers for shellfish.

Not to spoil the fantasy, but you know, not all of us at Island Creek are oyster farmers. And so what of us? What about the folks who sit behind desks and computers, who sell the seashells and stress the shipping? (Five times fast, go!)

Well, we are a lot like some of you. We love nature but don’t spend as much time in it as we’d like. We love good food, and while we partake occasionally, every meal isn’t a home run. We love a good time but need to pick and choose our battles lest we get gout, get embarrassed or simply get old. Which brings us back to the solstice, generally, and to shellfish in particular.

The solstice commemorates the sun’s position, and for those of us not nestled in nature’s ample bosom, we need that. It offers an opportunity to pick our heads up from our desks and appreciate where we have come from and where we are headed. It celebrates the darkness and reminds us of our animal kinship – don’t tell me there aren’t beavers spending a little too much time in their lodges (seriously, it’s called that. Google it, and you’re welcome) or squirrels breaking into the larder at this very moment. And right when it feels a little extra – the holiday, the demand, the darkness – it offers a huge glimmer of hope. “Hey guys, you’re already through the worst of it! More light ahead!”

And the oysters? We love oysters partly because we love where they come from – the ocean – where there is both darkness and light. Just like the solstice, they are like little missives from mother nature herself: a way for us to dig into nature and honor natural rhythms. They are endlessly enjoyable (man, are they enjoyable!) and also – oh-so seasonal. They offer something different in the winter months than in the summer and the way we eat them at those times changes, too. But throughout all of those shifts, they eventually arrive back in familiar territory – as ritual.

So if you’re reading this on your phone or computer – we see you! We’re typing on one too. But despite our modern-day reality, we don’t forget what else is true. That we care about nature and will always have the desire to take moments to tune into its cadence and understand there is something special and sacred in these seasonal cues. So, as we are doing today, we hope you can take a moment to pause, step outside, and take in the majesty of it all as we welcome the light back in on this winter solstice.

Wassail!