Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winter solstice

From Astronomy Picture of the Day
Boy, you can sure find some strange stuff on the Internet if you go searching for something as simple as "Winter Solstice." I am sure most of you know that the first day of winter begins when one of the Earth's hemispheres experiences its longest night and shortest day of the year. When you get into higher latitudes (such as where I am at the northern 49th parallel), the days are only a few minutes longer than eight hours, and the nights... well, the nights are VERY long, it seems. But soon now, we will begin the journey back to summer's long days and short nights. That picture above was taken in Tenerife, Canary Islands, during last year's lunar eclipse that occurred on December 21. If you want to know more about the picture, I've linked the Astronomy Picture of the Day that explains it.

I don't know about you, but I find the long nights and short days to be a time to pull inside and ponder the meaning of things. This year, the Winter Solstice will occur at 10:06pm on December 21 here on the Pacific coast of the United States. If you have some time to explore the Winter Solstice link above, you'll find that all over the world in every culture and in most religions, humans have acknowledged a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, gatherings, rituals, or other celebrations around that time. I'm sure there will be plenty of them around Bellingham this coming Wednesday night. You can bet I'll be fast asleep when it comes around this year. Usually if I am awake, I mark the moment.

I've been buried in books and have laid out my knitting needles to start a new project, both things I like to do when it's dark outside. Yesterday I finished Jodi Picoult's latest book, Sing You Home, which I enjoyed immensely. My only problem with her books is that I tend to keep reading until I've finished the story, anxious to find out what happens to her characters. She also keeps you guessing right up to the end.

Our local independent bookstore here in Bellingham, Village Books, gives its clients who sign up for an account 25% off any book in the store during your birthday month. Since I forgot to take my card for the discount, I'm forced to go back for another book before the end of December. You can tell I'm really sad about that (smile). My problem when I go there is trying to leave without taking home too many books. Plus I can bring them back and turn them in for a store credit once I'm finished. Because of that, I no longer write my name inside the books and ask friends who borrow them to treat the books gently.

Surrounded by plenty to read and at least two knitting projects to choose from, I'm feeling quite ready for long midwinter nights. And I have my blogging community of friends who keep me entertained with the comings and goings of their family and friends. For those who are struggling during these long nights, I am keeping you in my heart and will light a candle to push back the dark.


  1. My lord, good woman, what's goin' on here? You're makin' me cry. You're not supposed to do that. :)

    This is simply beautiful. There's a quiet elegance to your writing that allows this to just flow. Very nice.

    And, thank you;)

  2. This is my favorite time of year. It's dark enough to close the blinds, blocking the world out by 4:30 pm. It's then that I consider my day's work done. Time to relax and have some quiet time. Love it.

  3. eh, i rather like my sun shine...i would not mind if it snowed...i guess i dont mind the dark either...its quiet...

  4. Oh light a bunch for me! I hate it when it gets dark at 4PM..I am anxious to get the dark winter days behind me..and that happens so slowly. Really you go to sleep before 10:06 PM..that is the shank of the evening for me! :)

  5. I can surely remember those short days when my husband was stationed in Oak Harbor!! But what I really liked was that 10pm light in the summer solstice!!

    Super cool picture :D

  6. I also kind of like the early darkness (when I'm on vacation!) and feel like it's a time to indulge my desire to read or sew to my heart's content.

    I read "Sing Me Home" last summer while I was recuperating and loved it. I have one of hers on my headboard shelf, that I've been saving for break, because I read her books like you do, from start to finish. That's not so good when I'm working. I don't get enough sleep!!

    Enjoy your knitting and reading!

  7. This is not my favorite time of year, that is, after the holidays. January through March can be hard to bear. I think it's because I'm such a lover of being outdoors. But I do have projects for the winter months - sewing, blogging, photography, going for winter walks, and most Fridays afternoons with my grandkids.
    I got a set of birding maps for the state of Washingtom for an early Christmas gift. I think that might be a perfect way to plan some day and one nigh trips around the state. And we will be planning a new England trip in the spring to attend a family wedding. Trip planning is great for a winter time activity.
    Thanks for the info on the exact time of solstice. Being sort of a pagan, I like acknowledging the day.

  8. Winter is a time for long introspective reading, sleeping in and hot chocolate. What's not to like? Seriously though, this was a beautiful post, photo and all. Thank you.

  9. When I lived in California and New York City, I hated the winter season. The early gloom and darkness depressed me. I prefer perpetual sunshine.

  10. I'm not a fan of the dark evenings. And yet, there is a comfort that comes from this time of year. I love getting in my pajamas early, snuggling up in front of the fire, and reading. Here in Colorado, we have plenty of sun during the day during most days, so I don't get depressed with the dark evenings. For that I am grateful.

  11. You are a beautiful writer, my friend. I always leave your blog wanting for more. I also had an emotional response to your post. It really touched my heart.

    The longer nights don't seem to bother me. If anything, I find them comforting - a time of rest.
    I will check out the link you posted. It sounds quite interesting!
    Have a wonderful day!

  12. That is such a cool photo of the eclipse. The days get shorter in winter here in Hawaii also. Funny how I never noticed that when I was a child.

  13. That is a beautiful photo you found DJan. I always look forward to the Winter Solstice so we can began our journey back to longer days and warmer weather. Although I miss having more time outside the nights don't bother me that much. There always seems to be something to keep me busy.

    One of the most popular post I ever did on my main blog was a story about Barrow, AK back in 2009, it still gets visits. I posted a link to the Sea Ice webcam. I have the webcam saved to favorites and visit it often. This time of the year when I look at it I really don't mind our short days. Barrow is in constant darkness until January.

    It makes me thankful for even a little sunlight.

  14. We get up in the dark and go to bed in the dark. The only thing that changes is the time on the clock.

  15. That's a beautiful photo!
    I settle into winter and the long dark nights with anticipation. I enjoy them. Winter is a time for candles and crafts and contemplation and cozy, quiet time...ahhh! I love candles in the dark. You can light one for me, too. :):)

  16. It's a good contrast to have four seasons so we notice differences in weather and light. I would miss the variety and hibernation this time of the year will be fun for a time. By the time spring comes, we'll be ready for that too. I am going to enjoy some reading time, and consider some crafts for those snowbound days to come.

  17. I admit to liking the long Winter nights, I'm a 'nester' even more so when the sun goes down...
    Burn the candles, light the hearth, lots of teapot refills !

    The picture is awesome, and I've been to lovely Tenerife, it's a favorite vacation spot for English sun-worshipers :)
    Lovely post..

  18. You should do a blog giveaway and pick a winner for one of your favorite used books. Or an idea I've been thinking about is an exchange of a favorite local product with a blogging friend from another part of the world.

  19. Terrific post. As always, your writing is beautiful. Here in Florida, it's dark by around 5:15...not my favorite time of year with this light and dark thing. But the weather is beautiful.

  20. Pshaw!!! You can knit too?!! I swear, I am so envious of those who have mastered that skill. I can crochet, and I have attempted a couple of times to teach myself to knit. I'm really good at casting on. LOLOLOL

    But that is something you and I have in common. And by the way, I like the science of nature too....isn't it fascinating to learn all there is to learn on the 'net? Well, at least get a good running start?!!

    But, after this long hot and dry/drought filled summer, I am not too keen on thinking that far ahead to having the days getting longer and warmer. We had too much 'warm' this past year which I fear it'll be a repeat in 2012. Hope not, but I have to be realistic. LOL

    Have a great day...glad to have you stop by to visit, it's always a pleasure to have your company.

  21. We tend to slow down at the solstice...maybe more so as we age.
    I always think back to my arctic days when we had six weeks with no sun!

  22. Sounds like a wonderful plan!

    The winter doesn't really affect me as much here as it did when I lived in other places. The sun doesn't set until 6pm and it shines brightly (and warm!) most days! In fact, winter is the perfect season for hiking! Sadly no more scuba diving as the water is getting to be too cold for the wetsuits the dive clubs have available to rent....

    Enjoy your books and knitting! That bookstore sounds like a great place!

  23. I love my summers but I've learned to appreciate winter for what it offers. I'm nearing the end of a Jodi Picoult book too.. House Rules. This is only the third of hers which I've read, having discovered her only recently. The Help is next on my list though. Enjoy your winter.. Happy Solstice!

  24. Beautifully written DJan . I do not mind the dark. This gives me time to write, check emails, bloggyland, read, watch a fav Christmas Movie, etc, etc, etc.
    I liked that last line - very well said.
    "The Elephant's Child" said it in a nutshell.
    Think long and hard about doing a blog giveaway - it'l change your blog. Your blog is so fresh and natural - please do not spoil it with a giveaway. No offence to the writer who suggested that - my personal opinion only that I feel giveaways and freebies cheapen a blog. You might attract another whole kind of blogger, that just look at "next blog" for giveaways? Again, just my opinion
    Bottom line, I love the way you express yourself and I always enjoy reading your experiences, whether you are on the top of a mountain, hiking trail or sauntering through the market, knitting needles in hand :)


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