A disclaimer right off the get-go (no, not a gas station but a colloquialism meaning, the very beginning). If there were a list of the people who dislike winter the most yet still choose to reside in NE Ohio, I would be in the top ten. In 1975, when I left for the Air Force, I vowed that I would never again reside in a cold climate of my own choosing. The distinction ‘of my own choosing’ was because the Air Force has lots of great places they can send you that, like Olaf in Frozen have never even heard of summer. However, I soon returned to Ohio and here I have remained. Now all my children and grandchildren live within 35 minutes of me and my wife, Karin. Thus, there is no way we are moving now unless it is a mass exodus second only to Moses and the Israelites leaving Egypt! Now that my un-love of winter is clear to you the reader, allow me to extol some amazing things about the single moment of winter to which I absolutely look forward every year.
This year, 2020, that moment is at 5:01 a.m. EST December 21st. As I write this, it means that at 5:01 tomorrow morning, for a single moment in time, something occurs which is the most favored miracle for those of us who are called ‘winter-haters’. I want to be clear here, ‘winter-hater’ as an epithet, I think is a bit strong, but it wasn’t us that choose it. A bunch of ‘winter-lovers’ who walk around all summer in ski-boots longing for snow chose the name.
Interestingly, the moment that we love the most is technically named the ‘Astronomical First Day of Winter’ not to be confused with the ‘Meteorological First Day of Winter, December 1st. At 5:01 a.m. the sun, because of the tilt of the earth on its axis, will be at its very farthest point away from the Northern Hemisphere and my beloved NE Ohio home. The sun, itself, hasn’t moved of course. It is our earth’s tilt that changes and gives us this moment in time.
At 5:02 a.m. the earth will slowly begin its tilted path corrections and from then on until the middle of summer, the days begin to grow longer! Every day after tomorrow, until my joyous celebration of life called summer, the hours of sunlight will grow to be more and more. The dark, cold of winter will slowly begin to abate and spring will be on its way back to us with all its lovely greens and vibrant colors to replace the grey and ugly drab of winter.
‘Ah… but the beautiful white snow!’ you say.
Sure, it’s one of God’s amazing parts of nature and a new fallen snow across a meadow or a mountain ridge is beautiful. Snow filthy dirty along the roadsides and sidewalks, tracked into the garages across Ohio both by tires and boots is a n ugly reminder of the cold, nasty parts of winter we dislike so much!
So, here is to my favorite day of winter, the Winter Solstice! Supposedly sun worshipping Druids in Ireland built Stonehenge to help them honor this day for it is at the moment of the Solstice the sun appears to sit directly on top of one of the monoliths arranged there, still how we do not know. If you have an interest, you can watch a live stream from Stonehenge this year.**
To quote Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, who I believe through a child’s heart full of love and awe at the world, was a lover of summer like me and so many others who dislike winter, proclaimed, “God bless us everyone!”
* Information and photos courtesy The Farmer’s Almanac – “Winter Solstice the First Day of Winter” at http://www.almanac.com