The Watches of the Longest Night

By , December 21, 2011

The Winter Solstice has come, Midwinter’s Night, or, for those completely out of touch with the reality of our hemisphere’s seasons, “the first day of winter.” Ironically, it does feel more like the beginning of winter than the middle, on our homestead today. Unlike last year, when our rocks were bound in sea spray ice, it’s pretty balmy, 38° outside the cabin this morning. This is much more in keeping with the week before Christmas in our part of Alaska, when a warm spell seems more usual than cold. What’s unusual is the lack of rain that usually accompanies the warm temperatures. I measured 36% humidity this morning. We could be drying laundry on the line! However, with the gale that’s blowing, we could have rain at any moment.

We’ll have 6 hours and 8 minutes today, 2 whole minutes more than our neighbors in Haines to the north of us will see.

Winter Solstice on the Zeiger Homestead, 2001

A cloudy, stormy Winter Solstice on the Zeiger Homestead this year (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

We will not mark the Solstice as we have in past years, by tracking the charge from our solar panels. It’s too cloudy to bother with that today, which is unfortunate, as we have a new whizbang Trimetric monitor this year that could tell me all sorts of interesting things about the charge. Instead, we’ll hike across the bay when the tide falls, to rescue a turkey and other groceries that got left behind yesterday. I’ve got family obligations to attend on line, and a new Web client’s site needs attention. Tonight we’ll make some eggnog, a nice, festive dinner, and perhaps think about a fire on the beach, if the gale eases a bit. Otherwise, we might have to snuggle up in the cabin, listen to Christmas music and play some backgammon to pass the watches of this longest night.

Astronomically, the Solstice occurs at 8:30 p.m. our time, which is why your calendar probably tells you that “the first day of winter” comes tomorrow. In our country, that’s only true for those in the eastern time zone. For the rest of us, it happens tonight.

Happy Solstice! Glad Yule!

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy