Tonight is the winter solstice, the official first day of winter. The solstice is mystically imbued, a holy day when, you know, pagans dance and the insides of people’s eyelids turn inside out, yada yada yada. Here’s what I know: From here on out, the daylight hours keep getting longer.
This moment of joyous expectation will be nearly impossible for me to remember on or about February 21, when I will think that if I have to scrape [ insert type of frozen precipitation here ] off my car windows just one more time, I will be forced to impale myself upon my scraper as I pray for my car to heat up NOW so I can hold my shriveled, frozen fingers in front of the vents.
Hardest, though, is trying to drag myself out of bed at my normal hour when it’s pitch black outside; coming home when it’s 15 degrees and fumbling for five minutes in the dark to find the right key and force it into the lock on my back door.
I have a colleague who loves winter, not because she skis – she doesn’t – or snowshoes – huh-uh – but because it gets dark early and light late and she can burrow into her warm house for the winter and practically hibernate. She’s unbowed by the dark and unfazed by the cold (‘There is no bad weather,’ her husband says. ‘Only inadequate clothing.’)
Although I cannot identify, there are things that I appreciate about winter. There are few things more beautiful than a tree laden with snow sparkling in the sunshine or a white-capped mountain peak against the backdrop of a crystalline blue sky. Snowshoeing with a friend, a Thermos of hot soup, a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine is the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon (as long as you’re off the trail before it turns dark at 4:30). Once you do crawl out of bed, all it takes to wake up is to open the door to the morning newspaper and an icy blast of arctic air – no caffeine required. I appreciate winter most, though, when it’s gone.
So tonight, I will howl at the moon and dance with the druids. The Earth will keep turning on its axis, and the monoliths at Stonehenge will align with the stars. And why not?