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Day 358 - Thoughts on the Solstice

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Today, 22 December, is Winter Solstice. With sunrise at 8:26, sunset at 3:55, we have a little less than 7-1/2 hours 'true daylight.' Don't you believe it. The sun is so low to the horizon even at midday that it's not all that bright even when it's cloudless, certainly not 'true daylight.'

Compare that to Washington, DC. In the mid-Atlantic region, sunrise on the 22nd is at 7:23, sunset at 4:50 - that's two hours' difference. And that two hours surely does make a difference.

I've always thought of the solstice as the mid-point of winter. I came across a reference the other day describing it as 'the darkest night of the year.' That sounds downright ominous.

This month the new moon begins on Christmas Eve. Traditionally the phase was referred to as 'the dark of the moon'; we have astronomers to thank for 'new moon.' They used the term to define the conjunction of the moon and sun during the lunar blackout.

The golddust I gleaned from all this dross?

A brief sidetrip: I've never thought I'm subject to SAD, you know, Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don't remember being especially blue in the winter, not when I lived on the East Coast of the US, at any rate.

But I admit, after nearly twelve years here, I dread this midwinter darkness. Oh, not in a big way, nothing major. But I just feel uneasy somehow, weighed down, as if I'm struggling under a burden.

The world seems so dark, literally dark. I get up in darkness, I eat breakfast in darkness, I eat supper in darkness - thank goodness for artificial lights, but it's as if all this DARK dims the heart of me.

Today, at the nadir of daylight hours, I can almost feel the earth turning, like a cold car struggling to turn over. The engine grinds a bit, then - it catches, and the motor begins to run again.

Maybe the winter solstice is the 'real' beginning. Just as the darkest period in a lunar cycle is technically a new moon, then perhaps this pause in the annual cycle is the moment when we start a new year.

It's not an end, it's a beginning. Y'know, if you look at it carefully, you can almost always see the glass is half-full, ain't? Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Ha - you are dealing with a swedish spark friend here, on this the darkest day our sun goes up at 9.03 and down at 15.22 which gives us less than three and a half hours of daylight. The snow rained away so it´s back to really dark again.
    But this will change fast, in a month or two we have much lighter days - I only dread the cold days I know must come - so far this year it has been mild but in january - february we always gets spell with weeks or mor under ten degrees, I hate that!
    3361 days ago
    3361 days ago
    Equal day-equal night----Now the days can begin to get longer --2 min each day I think----December , with all the Xmas lights , gives some light in a very dark month---- --Nice!----- I too dread January and Feb--They seem sooooooo long---Anyway--nice to chaty with you girl!-Lynda emoticon
    3361 days ago
    You go girl, I'm all for the positive side of anything !!!!
    3361 days ago
    To the growing of light in our lives!

    3362 days ago
    It really is fascinating how the darkness affects us...in more than one way.....
    you certainly don't get much of the sun in the middle of your winter.....
    We get longer here and I moan about that....it is usually light by 8am and it is still light till about 5pm......thats on most days and thats at the shortest day pretty much.....
    3362 days ago
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