Brighter Days are Coming!

Today is the day AFTER the winter solstice, which means that things are only going to get better, starting now.

Horticultural Therapy is a year round practice.  Just because the amount of sunlight has been shrinking and growth has slowed to a virtual standstill, there are still many concepts to relay, many lessons to teach, and many new skills to attain.

Today, on the first day past the darkest day of the year, the Hort Therapy concept I’d like to relay is about trust.  The lesson is that even though the most recent days may have been the darkest, there is an inevitable and inspiring environmental cycle in process.  The skill is in trusting that this cycle will continue. As we know, trust is something that is easier said than done, but in the world of Hort Therapy, Mother Nature is the ultimate teacher and although she has her fickle moments, in the long run, she’s solid.

To that point, celebrations of the solstice are thousands of years old.  Actually, many of the traditions we now think of as being part of Christmas – including Yule logs, mistletoe and Christmas trees – have their roots in the pagan celebrations of winter solstice. All interesting fodder for a Hort Therapy geek like me.

Last night, I was reflecting on the solstice and was asked a poignant question, “What will you leave behind in the darkness?”. Huh.  As an agency, the surface answer is obvious; the RTF is closed, countless relationships are lost, and our way of being is forever changed.  Of course, none of this was by choice, so what we each choose to leave behind, perhaps the difficult feelings we may carry as a result of these losses, is an individual one.

The idea of leaving something behind begs the question of a future without it, and this brings me back to the Hort Therapy lesson of the day – trust. The darkest days of the year are past. Today, there will be more light and tomorrow, there will be even more. It’s time to think about what seeds lie in waiting for the brighter days to come. It’s time to trust that whatever seeds we choose to nurture, the cycle of growth will happen again.

Happy day AFTER the winter solstice!

Glade Run Adventures provides personalized experiences in nature, including horseback riding lessons, guided trail rides, animal care classes, gardening classes, farm to table cooking experiences and nature themed arts and crafts. These activities are prefect for families, school groups, home schoolers, girl and boy scout troops, youth groups and parties.


Glade Run Adventures is conveniently located north of Pittsburgh in Zelienople, just minutes from route 79 and Cranberry Township.


About the Author

Julie Wahlenmayer, Director of Adventures

Julie has been with Glade Run since 1996, shortly after graduating from Slippery Rock University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies. Her experiences in animal and horticultural assisted therapies at Glade Run lead Julie to complete her Master’s Degree in Counseling at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  Julie’s desire to connect individuals with the natural world around them, combined with her equestrian training and love of gardening, helped to shape our Adventures Program into the exemplary program that it is today. Julie’s vision for Glade Run Adventures is for it to become a model for social, emotional and physical growth and learning.

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