It Starts in February (or in March, in years when you've had 45 inches of snow....)
When the winter sun shines brightly in the southern sky, casting long shadows on the newly fallen snow, Jim will go outside to the grape arbor to begin the process of making the wreath.
The arbor is practically a work of art, more aptly called a lathe house. He built the first one out of
locust logs, but he recently built a new one, and it is now a beautiful interweave of slightly weathered grey-blue beams. The arbor is covered with the vines of several grape plants Jim has acquired over the years. In summer, we sit under its shade, sharing a drink or a meal with friends. But now, in February, the plants have been absent of leaves for many months, and the vines sit waiting for Jim to create the wreath (or wreathes) that form the centerpiece of our Solstice celebrations.
I can see the lathe house and the workshop from the window where I write, and I can also see the garden, the rock wall, and the rest of the yard. Everything looks ready, waiting. It is so uplifting to see Jim create something in mid-winter from vines that appear dead. He gives them a new life before anything else in the scene comes to life. He exerts great effort, to free the vines from the arbor, to begin the first steps of wrapping, to incorporate each new vine into the wreath, and to continually use his strength to make sure it keeps its circular shape. To this observer, the thick, tightly-woven finished wreath, and the whole strenuous process of his creating it, is emblematic of the strength mid-winter requires. It shows us how, if we are able to summon that strength, we can endure and in fact celebrate the cycle of life.
Here is the video of Jim making the wreath: