Solstice: Rosemerry & Elissa Shining Their Light
The term solstice means “sun stands still.” On the year’s two solstices (winter and summer) the sun appears to halt in its incremental journey across the sky and change little in position during this time. Of course, contrary to appearances from Earth, the sun’s “changing position” throughout the year is actually caused by the rotation of the Earth on its tilted axis as it circles the sun each year. The solstice occurs twice a year (around December 22nd and June 21st) when the sun is farthest from the tilting planet’s celestial equator. In modern times Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day, which falls on December 25. However, it’s believed that this date was chosen to offset pagan celebrations of Saturnalia and Natalis Invicti. Some believe that celebrating the birth of the “true light of the world” was set in sync with the December solstice because from that point onwards, days begin to have more daylight in the Northern Hemisphere.
A few more facts about the winter solstice from Mashable.
Then scroll down to read poems by two lovely and very talented local ladies – Word Woman Rosemerry Trommer, a former Poet Laureate and Elissa Dickson, the current Poet Laureate of San Miguel County. Guaranteed their words will warm your heart at the darkest time of the year – and perhaps beyond – assuaging the chill in our souls, the byproduct of our current socio-political environment.
And don’t miss Elissa next month when she is the featured speaker at Talking Gourds, the first of the New Year.
1. It happens at a specific time
The winter solstice isn’t the full day of Dec. 21, but rather occurs at a specific time. At that point, the sun is shining farthest to the south, directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. There’s no duration to the event, per se. Paul Stokles, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration refers to the winter solstice as a “single event.”
Of course, the sun isn’t actually moving, the Earth is. At 12:11 p.m. ET, the North Pole is tipped about 23 degrees away from the sun. When summer rolls around, the South Pole is tipped 23 degrees away from the sun. During the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the Earth is not tilted in either direction.
2. It happens at a different time each year
The winter solstice doesn’t always occur on Dec. 21. Sometimes it comes on Dec. 22, which will happen again in 2015. The hour of day also fluctuates. Last year, the solstice came at 11:12 a.m. ET. Next year, it occurs at 11:03 p.m.
3. The meteorological winter began three weeks ago
If it feels like winter has already begun, you are correct. Meteorologists consider Dec. 1 the start of the meteorological winter and March 1 the start of the meteorological spring. That’s because December, January and February are the three coldest months of the year. By the time the Spring Equinox rolls around on in the morning of March 20, 2017, average temperatures in most areas will have already started rising. The winter solstice isn’t the coldest day of the year, either — that comes later.
4. Last year at this time, some people thought the world was ending
Remember how the Mayan calendar supposedly said the world would end on Dec. 21, 2012? That was based on a reading of the end date of the Mayans’ 5,126-year-long Mesoamerica Long Count Calendar, which corresponded to certain astronomical events, including the winter solstice.
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer (Word Woman) is your co-host at the monthly Talking Gourds Poetry Club. Her beautiful words are certain to warm up your heart on these cold days, when the yellow light in the sky clicks off early. Can you find your inner light to warm a world that feels contentious and cold now?
On the Winter Solstice
On this gray, near-drizzling day
I write again this love letter
for the earth, which is, I suppose,
what all poems are, though they
disguise themselves as poems about
children or wine or baseball or snow.
On this longest night, it’s so clear—
the truest reason to write at all is to fall
more deeply in love with the world,
with its trees and its drizzle
and its stubborn shine and its
relentless hunger and its corners
that will never ever ever see the growing light.
Fall in love with the octopus that can detach
an arm on purpose and then grow it back again.
Fall in love with the elusive lynx
and the crooked forest and the frazzle ice
tinkling in the San Miguel River.
Fall in love even with this profoundly flawed
species that, despite all its faults,
is still capable of falling more deeply,
more wildly in love.
One Last Thing
Let us lace our words with light—
the fragrant light we carry in our flesh.
Even the darkest words can be said
with light, can be spoken with a seam
of radiance, spoken as if the whole world
depends on us finding that inner shine
and sharing it.
And one more from Elissa Dickson, adult program coordinator at Telluride’s five-star Wilkinson Public Library, also Poet Laureate of San Miguel County.
We are fireside icicles.
Hot-tempered, cold-shouldering anyone
Who doesn’t share our view,
While the news yells feverpitched freezeframes,
We are snowflake on tongue.
Tiptoeing flamelicked tightrope
Above the black dismay.
We are tightened jaw looking away
From loose screwed lost souls.
Finders keepers we whisper.
And what could I do anyway?
And what could I do anyway?
And what could I do anyway?
Begin with this.
Turn toward the fire.
Feel it burn.
See the raw red.
Ask the other icicles what it feels like to melt.
I dare you.
Cut the tightrope and splash into your own despair.
Taste the tang of honest grief.
I double dare you.
Relax your jaw and look.
Pain hurts less when it feels seen.
We are finders of stories.
We are keepers of stories.
And we are here to bear witness.
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