Welcome to day one of the Adirondack Coast‘s coldest season. Today is the winter solstice, the first official day of winter, and — more importantly for the likes of my mother and others who favor longer days and shorter nights — the threshold between the briefest day and the most prolonged night and imperceptibly-but-steadily lengthening daylight. If you live in the North Country it seems peculiar that winter should only have just begun given several weeks of wintery weather. Seasonality, in these parts, might suggest a slightly earlier autumn-to-winter transition, closer to Thanksgiving than to Christmas.
But the choice is ours to remark and not to make, so we soberly observe this hibernal milestone with tempered optimism that sunnier days await us on the other side. And, for the astronomically exuberant, it’s time to celebrate. Cheers!
If you’re longing for more sunlight, Wednesday is a day to celebrate: Dec. 21 is the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year — and first day of astronomical winter — in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s a sign that longer, brighter days are upon us. (Source: Justin Grieser, “First day of winter: Shortest day, longest night on December 21 solstice“, The Washington Post, December 21, 2022)
But, as with most tidy transitions, this threshold isn’t actually so tidy. Winter solstice may mark the shortest day and the longest night of the year, but the sunrise and sunset equation is slightly more muddled.
The bottom line: mornings will get a bit darker until early January, but we’ve already gained a few minutes of evening light. On balance, daylight will start to increase after Dec. 21, even as winter’s coldest days still lie ahead. (Source: Justin Grieser, “First day of winter: Shortest day, longest night on December 21 solstice“, The Washington Post, December 21, 2022)
So let’s focus on the lengthening days. And, if those increasingly cold days ahead bring snow, then let’s focus on that as well. After all, winter — proper, snowy winter — is one of our four favorite seasons of the year at Rosslyn! It’s a time for dog adventures, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, alpine and telemark skiing, bird feeders flush with avian wildlife, and that unique flavor or crystal clarity that only a subzero morning can catalyze.
And speaking of colder days ahead, this screenshot from Dark Sky appears to corroborate the generalization, albeit with a curious exception on Friday. Winter is here, and it looks probably that we’ll be able to enjoy a white Christmas (unless Friday’s warm weather melts the existing snow and delivers rain instead.)
In closing, note that the handsome Labrador retriever atop this post is not Carley, our current dog, but Griffin, a prior pal-o-mine. We lost him just over two years ago, and the ache hasn’t subsided. Maybe with longer, colder days ahead…