Thursday, December 24, 2015
The long shadows, one-third in
The thing I love most about being outdoors at this time of year is the low sun and long shadows, pointing north, which seems to make the sky and ocean both a deeper shade of blue and which illuminates the tops of the dormant grasses on the hills, giving them an otherwordly sheen.
It's honestly my favorite time of year, in no small part because of the cooler temperatures. It's always possible to warm up if you're in a cold climate -- hot drinks, heat, fires, or warm bath. But it's not always possible to cool off in the worst of summer's heat, for some reason. The decks are loaded against us cool-weather lovers. But that doesn't matter. We have our elysium in the here and now of this solstice month.
The solstices are, respectively, usually on or close to December 21st and June 21st. This week I've seen a lot of posts celebrating that from now on, the days will be getting longer. I tend be happy on the summer solstice because I know that at that point the days will be getting shorter.
But of course we all know that the summer and winter solstices appear nowhere near at the end of the respective seasons they reside in. In fact, they actually occur about one-third into each season they appear in.
On June 21st, for instance, we in the south still have the bulk of summer ahead of us. We'll be hot until October, so even the Autumnal Equinox in September is no harbinger of any seasonal change. And I'm sure my friends east of here will attest to the fact that some of winter's harshest days come after Christmas, in the months of January, February and March when there are no presents, lights and decorated trees to cheer you.
Nonetheless, perhaps like the Christmas holiday itself, the sun's travels through it's appointed dates -- solstices and equinoxes, are symbolic of things to come, and very simple reasons to have hope. In June, some part of me understands that now we will begin the slide that will ultimately end in winter. And that all I have to do is wait. For those of you in snowy areas, surely the days growing longer is a cause for hope, even if an acutal change in temperatures is months away.
And so, for those of you celebrating Christmas, it's a holiday all about hope, right? And so we all have that in common this time of year. I wish all of you a happy solstice, happy Christmas, and happy New Year. Enjoy both the reality of the season and the hope of what's still to come. The present holds our joy, but it's hope for the future that holds our dreams. And so with life, so with the solstices of our sun.