Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Light Victorious

This morning at 5:44 here at Farm Dover, the sun momentarily stood still. For it was at this predawn instant that the sun was directly overhead the Tropic of Capricorn. One moment later, it amazingly reversed its direction. The Winter Solstice, that time when the sun reaches its southern-most position, had come and gone for another year. Once again, the light is victorious; the time of increasing darkness has passed.

This phenomenon happened while I was fast asleep. It would be another two hours before the sun peeked above the horizon and dimly shone through the fog and into our bedroom window, waking me from my long winter's nap. The sun rose just to the east of the cottage at 7:56 this morning and will set tonight over the driveway's end at 5:27, marking the day a full 5 hours and 20 minutes shorter than on the Summer Solstice.

I shouldn't complain. Our day will be 15 minutes longer than Mary's in Brooklyn and nearly 2 hours longer than in Jack's Berlin. If we lived in Reykjavik, Iceland, our hours of sunlight would measure only a bit more than 4.

It's funny. I never paid much attention to the hours and minutes of sunlight or darkness when we lived in town. But out here, it is such a part of our lives. To a large extent, it governs when we wake up and when we sleep, when we do our chores and take our walks, when I wipe the dust from the bookshelves and when Ed builds the fire.

The darkness commands a hunkering down: a braising of warming stews, a cracking of whole nuts, another log on the fire, a good book to sink into. Conversely, the gaining light signals a time of rebirth: concocting spring tonics, perusing seed catalogs, planning the spring garden, ordering tree seedlings, cleaning and sharpening tools, and seeking out the first hyacinths, daffodils, and ramps.

I wouldn't want a world where there were always long days and short nights. I treasure my hibernation time, but eagerly look forward to the return of the light. Bring it on!

Yesterday's late sunrise
Yesterday's early sunset

Wishing you and your beloveds the light and warmth of a brightly burning hearth, on this, the longest night of the year. May you welcome the returning light in your life with joy and anticipation.

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