The winter solstice marks the return of lengthening days and we talk about more hours of light but, in reality, the difference between today and tomorrow will be measured in seconds. It’s a slow retreat from the darkness but those seconds add up and around here, at this time of year, we take what we can get, especially with the truly cold time still ahead.
The word “solstice” actually refers to the sun seeming to stand still, as today is essentially the same length as yesterday and yesterday was as short as the day before that. The days have been growing progressively shorter, and we know they will be growing longer, but first there is a pause. The earth wobbles on its axis, tilting us away from the sun and then back again, giving us our grand procession of seasons, and this pause is probably a good thing. If it didn’t take three full days to reverse the direction of the tilt, crash helmets and other protective gear would probably be the hot gifts of the season.
In June, the solstice days bring long, dreamy twilights and short nights that brighten into leisurely dawns. The days shorten noticeably from there — more quickly, it seems, than they lengthen from here — and thoughts of winter creep in, just like the no-see-ums of summer at the cuffs of my sleeves. It might seem strange, trying to remember where I put the snow shovel while waiting for mayflies to hatch, but it’s no stranger than thinking about then, now. Remembering June comes easily on an overcast December day that couldn’t get cranked up to much more than dim. Continue reading