Tag Archives: winter solstice

Fall Back into Momentum: Part 1

steep solstice
Over-dramatization of the harrowing descent into darkness between Chicago’s summer and winter solstices.

When it comes to roller coasters, I am the first to volunteer to stay below and guard the backpacks. I especially fear the lurching, juddering, teetering, oxygen grasping moment before gravity and leaps of faith take over.

But when it comes to Chicago’s seasonal rides, there is one steep crest I look forward to: the end of Daylight Saving Time. This Sunday, we scoop up some morning sunshine to ease the final plunge to the winter solstice. Many folks dread the early nights, but if we are going to ration daylight, I’d rather have it for breakfast. My mood depends on it.

Slide into Solstice Challenge
The scheduling sleight of (clock) hand serves as a wake up call, prompting fervent action on my ever backlogged and bloated to do list before midwinter dormancy takes hold.  As a yoga teacher once explained, our hemisphere’s new year is a terrible time to start ambitious plans. (Getting back into yoga is always on my resolution list. Hasn’t happened this year–yet!) However, there’s something to be said for hitting the holidays with momentum or at least minimal self-flagellation.

Will you join me in using the temporary reprieve from sleepy mornings to tackle some “F it!” goals over the next 2 months? These are not your B-suite SMART ambitions. I’m talking about a tiered approach that gives credit for basic functioning and allows for failure and forgiveness. That balances fun and frivolity with the frustrating and formidable. That perhaps leans on friends and family more than fierce, focused individuality. And that is understanding of those of us who can be frantic procrastinators. There’s nothing like some sunshine and a deadline to force me into high gear. I’ll lay out the plan in my next blog post, which, er, I hope to get to before Sunday.

Chicagodaylight
A less sensationalized representation of Chicago’s annual shifts in daylight taken from gaisma.com which shows how the sun shines around the word.

Happy New (Solstice) Year!

Happy New Year!

Wow. According to archaeoastronomy.com , the 2013’s winter solstice occurs in the central US region at 11:11am. The “make a wish” time of day. I have no idea if the site is reputable, but in keeping with one of my few New Year’s resolutions, I am not going to spend the next hour digging around for other resources. OK, maybe I’ll look for just one. . .

A quick trip to good ole Wikipedia (have you donated a few bucks lately?) captures my resonance with our ancestors.

  • The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months.
  • Starvation was common during the first months of the winter, January to April (northern hemisphere) or July to October (southern hemisphere), also known as “the famine months”.
  • In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began.
  • Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available.
  • The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time.

Don’t get me wrong, I am more than grateful to not have to worry about overall survival (at least to date—part of me does fear the end days). But what I sense underneath these observations is an overall uncertainty. Will the sun come back? Will the ground come back to life? How long do we have to wait to take off these stinky sheep goat skins?

Otzi the Ice Man A 5,300 year-old (Neolithic) mummified corpse (nicknamed Otzi) found in the Austrian-Italian Alps in 1991 was discovered wearing “leggings, loincloth and jacket made of deer and goat hide; a cape made of grass and the bark of the linden tree; a hat of bearskin; shoes insulated with grass, with bearskin soles and goatskin uppers.” (McKie, Robin for The Observer Sunday May 4, 2003)

Uh-oh. That was not a quick trip. 20 minutes or so later, I dug up some information about the clothing of Neolithic agrarians, the purported first builders of Stonehenge. I wanted to check on the veracity of the sheep skin claim. I found no mention of sheep skip, but did read that tanned goat hides were used. So were capes woven from grass. Read more at a Brief History of World Costume. Again, no guarantees on source validity.

Time to wrap up. I had intended to write about resolutions for this year, but I could not help falling down the rabbit hole. I will force myself to stop and just post without going back to scrutinize. Because my biggest goal of all is to temper my “maladaptive perfectionism”* which so often compromises my ability to bring projects across the finish line—small and big, trivial and important.

*Must. Resist. Urge. to look up maladaptive perfectionism to check my usage.