Only five days to the Solstice…

In spite of Lair improvements that help me make it more livably warm, so that winter isn’t quite the drawn-out emotional event it used to be, I still pay a lot of attention to the coming and especially the passing of the winter solstice. In particular, I like to note exactly when the sun peeks over the ridge to the Lair’s immediate east…


…which, when I first started paying attention to that, used to be almost precisely 7:45. But last winter I noticed something that perplexed me for a minute or two, before I had some more coffee and gave it a bit of thought…


Local daybreak was coming later. It’s not supposed to do that. We’re not talking about climate change, which obeys the bidding of its masters Algore and AOC. This is the frickin’ sun and planets, which probably only answer to somebody like Soros. And why would he want to make my day several minutes shorter? Is it a plot? Is it some nefarious plot involving terrifying space monkeys? Maybe I need a bigger gun.

The reason, of course, was obvious by a moment’s study of the scene. The sun wasn’t peeking over the ridgeline as such. It was peeking through the branches of a juniper which, in the 9+ years since I first started noticing solstice daybreak, could be expected to have grown slightly.

I was amused at the extent to which the knowledge made me feel better. I’ve said it before: Moving to a cold place where you have to make your own heat and shelter or freeze will give you an appreciation for why ancient people are said to have gotten so worked up over the winter solstice. Under those circumstances, it’s important.

Not important enough to go up and cut that juniper out of the way, but important.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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8 Responses to Only five days to the Solstice…

  1. Ben says:

    Almost outsmarted by a juniper bush. I love it!

  2. TS says:

    That is funny.
    As someone who lives in the mountains of Idaho I am looking forward to celebrating that half a nano second more of light the day after winter solstice. My husband makes fun of me, I care not, I know the light is coming….

  3. feralfae says:

    Ancient people carefully noted the position of the rising and setting of the sun, stars, and the moon in their stone age astronomical observatories. Stonehenge and N. American Medicine Wheels are such observatories. I have such an observatory in my yard here in Montana. Joel, you could mount lines of stones to mark the rising spots, and then have a certain place where you stand to watch the rises and settings. When you stand there, line should thus intersect the Solstice or other events. I have seen observatories where the slow shift of the Earth made adding more lines of stones — or slightly different observation points–necessary over the centuries. Right now, the observatory I am deciphering is at least 4,000 years old. I, too, track the Light. Have fun and Merry Christmas!

  4. Sendarius says:

    That makes me recall a problem presented in high school maths class:
    A juniper tree grows 3.4″ per year. If you carve your name into that juniper trunk EXACTLY one foot above ground level, how much higher would it be in another nine years?

    Simple: It would remain one foot above ground level (with the usual assumptions common in the maths world, including a spherical cow) because trees grow from the TOP.

  5. Kentucky says:

    Joel, I’ve often wondered if you even care what time it is at all. Do you wear a watch? I note your big wall clock.

    The day I retired I came home and took off my nice wrist watch and haven’t worn it since. I get up in the morning when I feel like it, eat when I’m hungry, and sleep when I’m sleepy (naps are a wonderful thing). 🙂

  6. Joel says:

    Kentucky, I was very surprised at the answer to your question when I learned it. I assumed that date and time of day would stop having any meaning for me, because I had been a slave to the clock for so long I was looking forward to casting it off. I was always very strict about punctuality: I hated being late for others and I hated when others were late for me. At times it was unavoidable in a big city, everybody gets stuck in traffic, but in general it was rude.

    I expected to lose all that but I learned that punctuality wasn’t something I resented, it was part of my nature to be structured and reliable, though now more comfortably removed from all those external demands. If I say I’ll be somewhere at a particular time I am there at that particular time, or more likely five minutes before. And my <400 sq. ft. cabin actually has 3 or 4 wall clocks, carefully synchronized with the Jeep clock. 🙂

    I always found wristwatches uncomfortable. Before cell phones I carried a pocket watch.

  7. Kentucky says:

    Oh, I understand and value punctuality. If I’m supposed to be involved with something/somebody at a predetermined time and place I’ll be there . . . as you say, likely a little early. We have clocks, I just don’t pay much attention to them if there’s nothing on the schedule. And I don’t carry a cell ‘phone except when I’m going to be away from home and even then don’t turn it on unless I need to call somebody. I don’t allow it to be a “leash”. 😉 Whatever works for ya.

  8. Robert says:

    “If you aren’t early, you’re late.” An associate of mine started penciling on his kitchen wall the time of sunrise and the location of the shadow cast on said wall by two fixed points. A year later, he had a home-grown analemma. Rather nifty.

To the stake with the heretic!