Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice 2014

Happy Solstice!
KW Farms
San Luis Valley, Colorado
December, 2014

Margrit Thorne started making face and body cream with our beef tallow about a year and a half ago.  When she first brought it to me to try, I brought out a jar of the stuff I had been using to compare ingredients. The label on my Age Perfect Cell Renewal Moisturizer Day Cream (SPF 15) by L’Oreal read: 

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone (3%, Sunscreen), Homosalate (5%, Sunscreen), Octisalate (5%, Sunscreen), Octocrylene (5%, Sunscreen)
Inactive Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Bis PEG 18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG 100 Stearate, PEG 20, Petrolatum, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, C13 14 Isoparaffin, Glyceryl Stearate, Dimethiconol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Cetearyl Glucoside, Neohesperidin Dihydrochalcone, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hydroxide, Cyclodextrin, Adenosine, Vigna Aconitifolia Seed Extract, Mannitol, Disodium EDTA, Disodium Succinate, Hydrolyzed Cicer Seed Extract, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Laureth 7, Yeast Extract, Xanthan Gum, Polyacrylamide, Acrylates/C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Cetyl Alcohol, Octyldodecanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Red 4, Yellow 5, Linalool, Geraniol, Alpha Isomethyl Ionone, Limonene, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Fragrance

            It cost $24. 99 for 1.7 oz. at the grocery store.
            Just about the only ingredient I recognize on the L’Oreal label is the first one listed – water.  Early on in her experimental runs, Margrit deleted water because it tended to make the cream mold. Since the L’Oreal cream never molds or changes in any way, I have to think a lot of the ingredients are for stabilization and preservation. 
            Margrit’s list of ingredients:   100% grassfed beef tallow; coconut oil; chamomile and calendula infused olive oil; bee’s wax; evening primrose oil; lavender, geranium, rosemary, and sage essential oil.  All organic ingredients.  No preservatives.
            She also makes some with arnica and comfrey, as well as zinc oxide.  You can get 2 oz. of the regular cream for $7.50 from KW Farms.  The arnica and zinc oxide cost $.50 more.  You can put it on your feet, or your fingers, or your face.  Or you could eat it, which we can’t say on our label, although one of our customers reported success using the zinc oxide formulation to control fever blisters in her mouth.   
            Margrit walked in our office the other day to drop off a new batch of lotion.  It was mid-afternoon, the “pinky time”, as we call it when the mountains to the east are splashed with fuchsia from the sun setting across the valley, the sky is shot with a tinge of darkness, and the cold of night settles in.  In her thick sweater, hand knit socks, and Birkenstocks, Margrit seemed perfectly comfortable in the growing cold, and had such light and warmth about her. 
Keenan Mackey making wood burning pictures with Summer light
Monte Vista Farmers' Market, 2014
            She was born in Switzerland the year WWII ended and grew up in Maienfeld.  This was the village in which Johanna Spyri set her book Heidi, published in 1800, a book “for children and those who love children”.  From the kitchen of her family home, Margrit could see Heidi’s cottage, and grew to be so like the girl in the story – curious, adventuresome, earthy.
            With her soft Swiss German accent, Margrit has a way of speaking that is liltingly buttery.  She talks about such things as the power of herbs, all the while chuckling and grinning, in wonder at the world and its magic, as if she were still a child who had already lived a lifetime.  Even though she is a daily user of the tallow cream, the glowing smoothness of her skin seems to come from deep within – the conviction to live well. 
            Standing next to her in the growing darkness of the afternoon, I realized she was the embodiment of Winter Solstice.
            It is my favorite moment of the year, deep quietude just before the hoopla of Christmas.  In the days approaching the Solstice, no matter grinchy detractions, I cannot help being filled with a joyful certainty that wells up from a primordial spring. It is the culmination of the eruption of spring, the joy of summer, and autumn’s bounty - the return of the light - set against a backdrop of a deep-hued exuberance, in shades of midnight blue, crimson tinted aubergine, and the green of ancient pines to set off the brilliant juxtaposition of light against dark. 
            On the night of Solstice, we have often enjoyed being part of lively gatherings of friends and family who, no matter the encouragement to solemnify the occasion, cannot avoid becoming boisterous throngs, their faith burgling to the surface that tells them – no doubt - the light will return.  I believe it is not the expectation that Santa Claus will bring a special treat that delights children around the time of the Solstice.  Rather it is instinctual within us – more pronounced in children - to feel the zealous expectation regarding the certainty of the Sun. And this is the reason there are so many Solstice–timed holidays around the world. 
            Many years we have had the luxury of having our granddaughter Zen Rose spend her winter school holiday with us at the farm.  She has always seemed to relish the rituals of the Solstice and Christmas, one of which is putting up the German Nativity scene that was in my family since I was a baby.  The ceramic figurines depict the character and personality of each.  We have grown attached to each camel and donkey and sheep, which we unwrap from the same pieces of tissue, growing rattier by the year.  From time to time we had new paper, to avoid breakage, but never remove the old, an ever-compacting, disintegrating nest of cushion and memory that we pull aside to reveal our old friends.           
           “Oh!  Here’s the shepherd boy.  And hello, Melchior, you old soul.”
Solstice Angels Seanna and Zen Rose, 2012
            Putting the Nativity away after Christmas, telling everyone goodbye is always more poignant than setting it up, when there is a lot more excitement and a lot to do to get ready for Christmas, when there are people coming and things to cook.  But, we treasure taking our time putting it away, wrapping each piece in its time worn tissue and setting it in its nest of shredded raffia, the creche first, then the Baby Jesus, so we find him last, then the solemn Joseph and the beautiful Mother Mary…  And on through the Wise Men and the Shepherds and all the animals, kissing each one, giving it our farewell blessing, receiving theirs – telling them we will see them next year, knowing we will, although nothing is as certain as the light. 

Much love,
Trudi Kretsinger