Kage Baker always observed the quarter days. They’re old, old, old holidays, the solstices and equinoxes; originally of practical use in establishing when to plant and harvest crops, or when we can expect expect the glaciers to move back up the valley. That kind of thing is very important.
As Sir Terry Pratchett observed, hopefully the oxygen will melt and the sun will come back.
Tonight is the Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere). It’s the shortest day (which is nearly gone outside right now) and will eventually be the longest night. The sun sets officially at 4:47 tonight, and won’t rise until 7-ish tomorrow morning. The Solstice itself will occur at 8:39 here in Los Angeles – mileage may vary, depending on where you are. Check the local astronomical tables if you want to be completely au courant with the event.
It’s one of the balance points, the Solstice. The world is spinning on its toes tonight in a long pirouette, and about to slide gracefully into the pique that leads to Summer. From this point on, we are falling into light.
That’s a particularly good idea on which to focus, too, as this is also the first day of Winter. For the first part of this glissade, things are gonna get colder … here in LA, in fact, January and February are usually the coldest months of all. It’s when we get frost: fern patterns on the window glass and whitened crop circles on the lawn. And this year. it’s supposed to be when the worst of El Nino hits us, which will mean floods and mudslides and the rare hysterical snow falling in Burbank and Topanga.
Personally, for me it’s sock season. I spend most of the year as barefooted as a Hobbit, only putting on shoes when it’s socially required. This time of year, though, I go through my entire stocking collection. They’re the first article of clothing I put on every morning. This year, in fact, I’m wearing one sock under my foot corset and a second one on top; I don’t want to add frostbite to my pedal woes.
But I’ve got no complaints. Enjoy this, Dear Readers! It’s seasonal, and normal. Every cell in my body is relaxing into grateful torpor along with the drowsy trees and grasses. It’s the hushedt time of the year. It’s the quiet harvest of rest and renewal, a kindness the earth does us when the year has just about ground us up entirely …
Besides, if you’re in Australia, it’s the Summer Solstice anyway. So get out there and start leaping between the bonfires – it’s a short night for you!
As for the rest of us … have a cup of cheer. Wrap up warm, and as close to someone you love as you can get.
Happy Solstice, all.