by SUSANNE MARIE POULETTE
Winter Solstice occurs today around 6:00 PM in my part of the woods in upstate New York. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) describes the winter solstice as the shortest day and longest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. In astronomy, the solstice occurs at the moment when the earth’s tilt from the sun is at its maximum. On the day of the winter solstice, the sun appears at its lowest elevation with a noontime position that changes very little for several days before and after the winter solstice. This “lingering” of the sun gives rise to the word solstice: Latin sol (sun) and stitium (from sistere, to stand still.), sun standing still.
Fine. But for many of us, all of winter feels like it’s standing still for three long months, not just several days. Have you guessed that I’m not a skier? So I’ll try to make peace with the onslaught—pardon me, I mean, the beginning of winter, and wax a bit poetic.
Isn’t it funny how ideas and events come together many times? Coincidence? Or some magical workings of our universe? I recently started reading Richard Cohen’s Chasing the Sun: The Epic Story of the Star That Gives Us Life. Coincidentally, or providentially (take your pick), this book was recommended to me by writer Dave King, whose interview with The Writers’ Loop appeared earlier this month. Chasing the Sun is a fascinating account of science, culture, myth, and fact around the history of our relationship with the sun. It begins with stories of celebration of the seasons. Very apropos for getting in the mood for Winter Solstice and anticipating longer daylight in the coming weeks.
We don’t need to dance around a bonfire or anything like that, but let’s celebrate with a journey through some of winter’s “snowscapes” and several of our favorite poets.
To hear and watch Robert Frost read this poem, click below. For more about Frost, go to: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/poetryeverywhere/frost.html
Happy Winter Solstice, and a Joyful and Healthy Winter Season from The Writers’ Loop.