Winter Solstice

Tomorrow, at 7:47 am, Big Sur time, the Winter Solstice occurs.

“The Winter Solstice occurs exactly when the earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. Though the Winter Solstice lasts an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like Midwinter to refer to the day on which it occurs. For most people in the high latitudes this is commonly known as the shortest day and the sun’s daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest.” (Wikipedia)

There are as many different types of celebrations of this astrological event as there are cultures and religions, past and present. It is the “official” day of winter, here in the northern hemisphere, and it is when the days begin to lengthen again.

For me, rooted in a northern clime, the significance is both the beginning of winter, and the lengthening of the days. I am a person of the sun, who rises with it, and slows my rhythms when its time with me is also slowed. Long before we had a name to go along with these most natural of nature’s patterns (seasonal affective disorder), our bodies simply increased the secretion of melatonin in the body, causing longer sleep. Now, we know that special lights, plants, and negative ions can diminish the effect of the lesser sunlight.

It is a seasonal lull that many of nature’s plants and animals observe. It is a time for us to be focused inward rather than outward. Rather than fight the natural patterns, I choose to follow them, and become quiet, solitary, and introspective. Tomorrow, that time lessens, and my outward focus will begin its return, just as the sun increases its time in our northern skies.

I will celebrate the holidays with friends, as we all do, but for me, the true holiday is tomorrow, the Winter Solstice, when I begin my outward focus, once again, and leave the inner world I have come to inhabit.

(Note on photo: After Cal-Trans cut down some of our trees here in a turnout, one of local gentlemen went out and carved the stumps into lovely places to sit in solitude, admiring the great Pacific.)

8 thoughts on “Winter Solstice

  1. Living in central Wisconsin I aleays look forward to the lengthening of the days again.Sunset just comes to early up here in winter….Awsome photo and a wonderful use for those stumps…

  2. …and now for some fisherman’s yarns!…


    Yesterday, when I went out fishing out of Stillwater Cove in Carmel, I had a surprise. The reports were for a decreasing swell, but the opposite was true. I noticed a large wave off Ghost Tree as I launched, and when I got out there to fish, the new swell was “staircasing” with ever larger sets by the moment. The swell was a of a rare southwest angle, and with deceptive lulls. Then a big set would come through with about 10 massively thick long-period “tsunamis”. With so much power, they would penetrate into even the most protectec coves. This made the fishing horrible, dangerous, and scary…some of these “sneakers” were in the 20 foot category!!! But I got a little reward…While looking at Ghost Tree, I thought of how perfect those barrels were…could I dare to surf one in my boat without disaster? So I “tested” one, steering along the shoulder. The ride was exhilirating! On the second one, I got a little more daring, so I cut down the face, full bore. Looking over my left shoulder, I was stunned to see a huge gaping tube just behind me! Committed, too late for turning out, so I gunned it across the face. The third wave was a repeat. My boat bounced wildly on the trxture running up the face, spray flew off the bow nearly blinding me. I found I could use my motor as a fin, turning and cutting back, combined with leaning my body like in board surfing. Then the realization struck me…if somebody was watching, one might think I was commercial fishing in a reserve (the open commercial fishing is just outside of where I was “surfing”), or one might even brand me as using a Personal Watercraft in a closed zone (my boat is a commercial vessel, does not go over 17mph (defining a PWC), BUT…with the power of these waves, I guess my speed dropping across these barrels could be exceeding the 17mph! So…time to stop the playtime, and get focused on my JOB! But wait…here comes a REALLY big one! A beautiful 15 footer was approaching. Could not resist! Driving down the face of that one was beyond belief.screaming across the face, a giant cavern roared behind me. Looking over my shoulder at the incredible sight, at mach speed, nearly out of control gave a moment of sheer ecstacy. Then reality struck again…If I wipe out, it is not like in surfing. I would lose my boat, my career as a fisherman, and possibly my life! Taking such a risk is bordering on foolishness…so I got my senses back and got back to my job…catching fish! I reorganized the buckets, filet knives, fishing bait, and gear that was strewn all about the bilge of the boat from the radical g-forces and the bouncing around, and motored out to the deeper reefs and safety. But those moments are burned in my memory for life!

    And here’s is Larry’s original “poem” from a story a year ago. Yesterday’s experience may be that poem come true!

    What?!! Travel down the coast without your surf gear?…

    Of course! With this new (old) standup paddle surf craze goin’ on Capt Lingcod could set some new records. I can see it now!

    End of the day, cold and wet, full catch – gills to the gunwales, riding real low and cruising real slow…. Mon Capitan – jaw set on his corn cob pipe and collar turned up against the sea – dreams about a hot shower and dinner.

    All of a sudden the purrrrfect left hander comes peeling off the point a ways astearn. Capt Dave picks up an oar, vaults up onto the pile o’ fish and strokes into this massive barrel! The boat rises. And rises.
    The bow – for an instant – is clear of water and frozen – as if waiting for instructions. Just then the rush of gravity transforms the old lunker into a lightning bolt for the best E Ticket Ride imaginable. Now the Skiffer is a surrrfin’!

    Fish are a flyin’ while Lingcod sets an edge to take the turn. Despite groans of protest vibrating from the aluminum sheet metal… and rivets straining their very limit, this barge holds together! Yo ho, there’s light at the end of thar tunnel!
    Carving and careening a behemoth bottom turn Capt Dave stares down the line from his pesce perch while pufffin’ away and grinning like the ling who just had his lunch – but is right away ready for his afternoon snack. This Ling Cod glides up and down the giant roller coaster wall of water, headed surely for shore.

    Meanwhile Dave dreams on – with translucent barrel overhead, blue sky ahead and the promise of bringing in the days catch.

    -Larry Arthur
    (An old childhood surfin’ buddy of David Allan)

  3. Today is winter solstice the shortest day of the year that has a special significance to almost all cultures and countries in the world. But there is another significance on a much grander scale to this day, three years from now. On this day 21st December 2012, the plane of ellipse on which the planets of the solar system revolves around the sun completes one full round with respect to the equator of the milky way, this happens once every 26,000 years!! The last time this event happened, earth was in the peak of last ice age. This time around we have had a failed global conference to prevent another impeding climate change.

    But I am digressing; So what will happen on 21st December 2012. For one, it is the end of the Mayan calendar, yep, those very literate, prosperous and great pyramid builders also calculated empirically astronomic movements at a time when humans in other parts of the world were busy hunting and gathering, worrying either for the next meal or mate.

    So the Mayans ended their “long count” calendar on 21st December 2012 and given our compulsion to intellectualize and find answers, there are many opinions on why did their calendar end on this day than any other. Lots of theories of doomsday have been going around; reversal of earth’s magnetic fields, giant intergalactic fire storms destroying planets, apocalypse and the like. There are also some who opinion that earth and its inhabitants will undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation on this day with one cycle getting over and another commencing. An equivalent of a Hindu “uga” coming to an end. Our cumulative knowledge on this subject is thus effectively limited by our imagination at best.

  4. And, of course, one theory which makes a lot of sense, given the nature of calendars, is that the Mayan Calendar simply starts over again on December 22, 2012, regardless of the apocalyptic prophesies or spiritual awakenings that may occur the day before. As you, santosh, say, the possibilities are only limited by our collective imaginations, which are almost boundless!

  5. From the East coast with the sun rising up from the ocean sets a different biorythmn than living by the sun sinking into the ocean. Today opened the space of suspended expectation. Very internal.

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