One of the joys of winter is gathering with friends around a warm fire, and sharing hearty food and good company. The first gathering was with my family, who once again joined with a friends’ family for a winter dinner. My contribution, as it has been every year, was a plum pudding that we dowsed with brandy and lit with a match. The blue flame caressed the whole before we set to and tucked in.

On the top there’s a sprig of holly, and around the edges persimmon chunks to remind us of the returning sun.

I made a circle of titoki berries also on a white plate, for all visitors to see over the last week.

Then over the weekend I was with a group of dear women friends, with whom I’ve celebrated the changing sessions for 25 years. This bowl of water made me think of gazing into the darkness of winter. At the bottom of the bowl is a beautiful fragment of paua shell.

And watching over us all was this beautiful clay goddess, made by my friend Helen, who crowned her with orchids. These midwinter circles have been so full of love and blessings. While the cold winds have raged outside and the ‘fridge door of the Antarctic’ has been flung wide open, my heart has been massaged and warmed.