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Winter Solstice bonfire at Audubon Monday

The public is invited to a bonfire and a reflective hike in celebration of the winter solstice on Monday, Dec. 21, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. or 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Audubon Community Nature Center.

JAMESTOWN — The longest night of the year gives way to increasing light on the winter solstice.

Celebrate a return to light and new beginnings on Monday, Dec. 21, at the Audubon Community Nature Center’s Winter Solstice Bonfire from 4:30 to 6 p.m. or 6 to 7:30 p.m., and drop in anytime during your scheduled time slot to participate in one of the activities.

Participants will gather in the pavilion on the west side of the property and are reminded to dress for the weather and bring a face covering.

Winter is often thought of as a time of increased dark and stagnancy, but the winter solstice gives people the space and time to contemplate a new beginning. The winter solstice marks a time of hope and rebirth, when nature invites us to be still and listen. Winter offers a clean slate and an unobstructed view into personal passions, allowing for quiet contemplation of your intentions for the coming year and gratitude for the year prior.

Participate in a release ceremony by creating a manifestation or representation of something one would like to let go into the world — it can be a hope or wish for others or a weight or burden one wants to be free from. Then toss it into the fire to release it.

There will also be short, reflective hikes at 5:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. led by Karen Hansen of Samara Yoga Center. Face coverings are required for the hike.

Karen Hansen is co-owner of Samsara Yoga Center. Trained in the Sri Vidya Yoga Tradition, she completed her formal studies at the Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy, earning her 200-, 500-hour and Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist Certification (AYS). A yoga practitioner since 2001, Hansen began teaching in 2010. In addition to private clients, classes, and volunteer work, she teaches at Chautauqua Institution during the summer season.

Those attending will want to wear appropriate footwear for a short walk on snowy or muddy trails to get to the bonfire. Participants are encouraged to bring your own hot cocoa or warm drink and snacks to eat around the fire.

The fee for participating is $6 for adults, $2 for children 3-15, and free for ages two and under.

Paid reservations are required by 2 p.m. Dec. 21. They can be made by calling 569-2345 during business hours or going to AudubonCNC.org and clicking on “Register for a Program.” Due to COVID-19 related precautions walk-ins are not permitted. All participants must be pre-registered to participate in the event.

Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren. The first floor of the Nature Center building, including the Blue Heron Gift Shop, live animals, and the 2020 Nature Photography Contest winning photographs, is open Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Because not all of the building is accessible, admission is by donation only.

Visitors are welcome to visit the 600-acre nature preserve from dawn to dusk daily.

While practicing safe social distancing measures, you can enjoy the grounds and six miles of trails, and view Liberty, Audubon’s non-releasable Bald Eagle. To learn more about Audubon and its programs, call 569-2345, visit AudubonCNC.org, or find Audubon Community Nature Center on Facebook.

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