William Cowper, an English poet once said that winter is the ruler of the inverted year. He went on to crown winter king of intimate delights and undisturbed comfort of home. With that said, today is the shortest day of the year and the official start to winter here in the U.S.A.
According to Wikipedia, the winter solstice occurs exactly when the Earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23° 26'. I like this description from the Adventure Journal better:
"But winter’s darkness is also a source of wonder, of awe, and maybe a little mysticism.
Just watch Tor Even Mathisen’s gorgeous time-lapse video of the Northern Lights. It was shot just above the Arctic Circle, in and around Tromsø, Norway, an area Viking settlers invaded in roughly 600 A.D. Imagine what they must have thought as the region plunged fully into darkness for the entire month of December and the only illumination from overhead came as a celestial light show, glowing eerily green and dancing wildly.
Yes, yes, it’s the sun’s coronal blast (solar wind) being trapped by the earth’s magnetosphere, more visible at the poles due to their greater magnetism; the zero-watt bulb of December/June also makes the Aurora easier to spy in the Arctic/Antarctic. But to any explorer from milder zones, going north to a place where the sun refused to rise, the first sight of the Aurora must surely have been almost too terrifying—a false dawn that never came, a cold that didn’t ebb. And then, at last when the sun returned, just try to imagine the relief and joy. Even a tough old Viking would feel reborn."
Thanks to Eryn at Studio 22 for sharing this with me.
Happy winter solstice!