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Did you hug your December solstice?

You all might have missed an event Dec. 21. That was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. So that makes Dec. 22, what — the beginning of spring? Well, it sort of is the beginning of spring because that is when the days begin getting longer by just a few minutes each day.

Spring is in there somewhere and then we arrive at June 20 or 21 and the summer solstice — the longest day of the year. The day after that, we start all over again, with days that get shorter until we arrive again at the winter solstice on Dec. 20 or 21.

I bet a lot of you knew that already. Or maybe not — it seems my children didn’t know when I mentioned the winter solstice Dec. 21. Not that their ignorance of the date means anything since we’ve never had a big solstice celebration around here. I’m not sure it even was mentioned. I guess it is just one of those old-timey things with which our population no longer deals.

My guess is that if you don’t get an almanac calendar from some business in your community, you likely don’t know about the summer or winter solstice.

So I am not criticizing my daughters or any other members of the younger generation for not knowing; what are they going to do with the information anyway? Perform some pagan ritual or howl at the moon on the given dates? Not any of us bought into those rites.

However, I have always heaved a sigh of relief at the winter solstice and looked at the summer solstice with dread. And I honestly do not know when I even knew what either date actually meant. However, when the shortest day is spent and we move on to longer periods of sunshine, I am a happier soul.

And when the longest day ends in June and by minutes, the rest of the summer days get shorter, I am less than pleased.

I know there are places in the world with more extreme summers and winters. I think we are pretty much in the middle zone here in the heartland of North America and I am glad. I am counting down the days as we enter January. It is almost daylight until 6 p.m., almost! January and February are pretty bleak, but as the sun shines a bit more every day, so does the promise of longer days and warmer temperatures.

Now you know how I feel about a solstice. I hope you weren’t holding your breath.

— susan marshall

Last modified Jan. 5, 2011

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