Winter Solstice – 2012 edition


I have gotten a chuckle out of the Mayan Prophecy die hearts, have paid attention to the 11 year cycle of the Solar Maximums (which we are entering), have watched the “fiscal cliff” we are approaching (who comes up with these names, anyway?) but choose to focus on the lengthening of days and the holiday season of Joy.

Below, I repost one of my Winter Solstice posts from 2009:

“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 today, the Winter Solstice, when I begin my outward focus, once again, and leave the inner world I have come to inhabit.


I don’t usually post photos I find on FB, but this one is so good, and so appropriate! Sunrise this morning at Stonehedge.


Endeavor, Thunderbirds, Fall Equinox

What an incredible day! I drove up the coast, stopping at every turn out from 9:45-11:00, chasing the endeavor. I didn’t see it, but I realized later, it passed directly over my house! That’s magic, whether I saw it or not.

20120921-210546.jpg NASA photograph

I had an appointment in Salinas. When I got there, I found out that the Thunderbirds were practicing for their weekend air show. I had at least a dozen near-misses with other cars and pedestrians, as I pulled over suddenly on streets in Salinas, trying to get the shot. I didn’t. But not because I didn’t try … And almost run up the sidewalk on a pedestrian on Sherwood – the old red-light district, and current homeless section.

20120921-211946.jpg Thunderbird media photo.

These planes travel at speeds over 400 mph, sometimes only 2 and 1/2 feet, yes FEET, apart. These Falcon F-16s sometimes reach 7 Gs. For the first time, there is a Mom on the team. She flew fighter planes in Iraq. She wanted to be a fighter pilot at the age of 13, when she first saw the Thunderbirds. Now she is one!

Then, top it off with the Fall Equinox, and official start of fall, and it was one of those days that make me so grateful to be who and where I am. Time to add water to my solar generator – 4 times a year … So equinoxes and solstices are obvious solution. This is the subject of a future blog post. I hope your days are full of magic, too!

Last Night’s Rain

Monterey reported .17 inches. I received .50 inches. Very nice.

Fall is indeed here, and summer is slipping away. Fall and Spring are my two favorite seasons up here. Fall brings cooler nights. The yellow jackets and face flies die off, and the fog on the coast is lessened. Fall brings the annual Jade Festival, and summer vegetable harvests. After the heat, dust, and dryness of Summer (not to mention bugs), Fall is always much anticipated.

Shortly, in a week or so, I will convert my links back to winter weather watch from the current fire conditions watch, so if there are any here you particularly want to view during winter months, I suggest you bookmark them until next year’s fire season begins.

Also, as I noted in another post, I have added a hierarchial category system to my blog, found in the side bar at the bottom. Here, you can click on a category — fire season for the Chalk Fire reports, or Jade Festival for last year’s report — and see all the posts that pertain to that category. Many posts are categorized in several areas and most posts are categorized, although I wasn’t as good about that in the beginning, but I’m working on that.

May Day

Beltane is the second principal Celtic festival (the other being Samhain). Celebrated approximately halfway between Vernal (spring) equinox and the midsummer (Summer Solstice). Beltane traditionally marked the arrival if summer in ancient times.

At Beltane the Pleiades star cluster rises just before sunrise on the morning horizon, whereas winter (Samhain) begins when the Pleiades rises at sunset. The Pleiades is a cluster of seven closely placed stars, the seven sisters, in the constellation of Taurus, near his shoulder. When looking for the Pleiades with the naked eye, remember it looks like a tiny dipper-shaped pattern of six moderately bright stars (the seventh can be seen on very dark nights) in the constellation of Taurus. It stands very low in the east-northeast sky for just a few minutes before sunrise.

Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into its two primary seasons, winter (Dark Part) and summer (Light Part). As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane, its counter part, is about honoring Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter and able to rule over summer and life once again. (from

The beginning of May was a very popular feast time for the Romans. It was devoted primarily to the worship of Flora, the goddess of flowers. It was in her honor a five day celebration, called the Floralia, was held. The five day festival would start from April 28 and end on May 2. The Romans brought in the rituals of the Floralia festival in the British Isles. And gradually the rituals of the Floralia were added to those of the Beltane. And many of today’s customs on the May Day bear a stark similarity with those combined traditions. (from

Here are the flowers for Flora. Sorry, not up to a photograph of the Pleiades (if I could even do that). I am a prisoner in my own cottage, playing nursemaid to my dog.