Timothy Steele's poems. Rosamunde Pilcher's novel. Josh Sternfeld's film.
My favorite day of the calendar is winter solstice. Not for any mystical reason; I just like light more than darkness, and that's the day light stops declining in the northern hemisphere.
If I had the money, I might buy a second home in New Zealand so I could live in seasons of light and warmth all year long. My bet is that if everyone had such money, the weight of the planet would shift semi-annually -- billions of people moving north at spring equinox and moving south in the fall.
Lacking such money, here I am in northern Indiana where it's cold and dark, but as of December 21 this year, the darkness will recede for another six months, and I'll greet the sun accordingly. It won't be warm for months yet, but the light is the key.
We have 16 items at the library with the phrase "winter solstice" in the title, and many more items about the annual transition from darkness to lightness. Astronomy, poetry, film, music -- the formats vary, but the "darkest day of the year" deserves its universal recognition. For that matter, some scholars think the big kahuna on the modern calendar -- Christmas -- was originally a Christian alternative to pagan solstice celebrations.
The transition isn't as important in practical terms today as it was before electric lights were invented -- not to mention before humans first controlled fire. But the need for light and the fear of dark remain ingrained in us. And various warnings -- scientific, novelistic or spirtual -- that civilization could soon collapse remind us how vulnerable we will be if those artificial lights do go out.
So, even if it's very cold, step outside for a moment Wednesday and celebrate the fact Earth has revolved around the primal light back to the winter solstice point. That's not so promising for the folks in Auckland -- but then their summer is just starting, so I'm not feeling sorry for them.
Evan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.