The Sun Returns as Winter Begins
Today, Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, the sun begins its journey back to warm us. Moment by moment, day by day, its light will shine brighter, its rays will grow stronger, its presence will last measurable minutes longer. And yet, each day, as the winter goes on, the cold will grow deeper, along (so I hope) with the snow.
I do love winter. Especially ones with deep cold and deeper snow. I want the lakes and the river bays to freeze thick and hard, so that I can safely cross their frozen expanses and make my way back into the swamps and marshes and bogs too muddy for exploring in summer. I want the snow deep and soft in the woods, so that I can marvel at how many creatures pass there, coyotes and minks and foxes and fishers and bobcats and more, animals I would never know lived in these woods, if not for their tracks and trails. I want nights so cold and clear I can see all the way to heaven, with stars so bright they pierce the eye, and sub-zero days with deep-blue skies and frost-spangled air that glitters with sequined snowflakes.
So yes, I do celebrate the return of the light and the promise it holds of warmer seasons to come. But I also delight in all of the beauties of winter. Without that cold, I could never find hoarfrost stars exploding from the surface of clear black ice.
Splashing creeks are lovely in every season, but only in the coldest winters can I find crystal chandeliers overhanging the banks.
The warmer seasons gift us with a riot of colors, from the earliest spring flowers through midsummer's multicolored meadows to autumn's glorious foliage. By contrast, winter offers mostly a monotone palette of blacks, grays, and whites, like this full-color photo of a crabapple covered with snow.
All the more powerful, then, is the brilliant red of Winterberries, glowing through the snow. What a jolt of joy to behold!
I wish all my readers comparable jolts of joy as we celebrate this holiday season, whether you spend it cozy and warm by an indoor fire, or warmed by the effort of huffing and puffing through snowbanks. Here's one more photo to remind me of the pure beauty and exquisite silence of a snowy woods, when even at midday, the sun casts lengthening shadows across the snow.
Happy Solstice to All! And a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year, too.