In our Northern Hemisphere winter solstice is usually the 21 or 22 of December. It is also known as the “shortest day” of the year. Continuously the winter solstice has been seen as a significant time of the year and has been marked by celebrations and ceremonies with the symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun.
This Lake City, Colorado Saturday morning was cold. It was close to 0. Central heat doesn’t exist up here. It takes ‘awhile’ for the fireplace to warm up our little 1981, built for seasonal use, home. While procrastinating getting up from under the electric blanket, my mind drifted back to 10 years ago when we visited our son and his wife while they were living in Ireland. During that visit we made a side trip to Newgrange. Newgrange was constructed about 5,200 years ago (3,200 B.C.) which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza.
Newgrange is famous for the rays of sunlight moving through the passage and chamber created by the winter solstice sun. Above the entrance to the passage at Newgrange there is a opening called a roof-box. Its purpose is to allow sunlight to penetrate the chamber on the winter solstice.
At dawn, from December 19 to 23, a narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box and reaches the floor of the chamber, gradually extending to the rear of the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the sunbeam widens within the chamber so that the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated. This event lasts for 17 minutes, beginning around 9am.
The intent of the Stone Age farmers who build Newgrange was surely to mark the beginning of the new year. Too, it may have served as a commanding symbol of the victory of life over death. It is an impressive place of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance, perhaps not too different from present day cathedrals.
Beautiful rocks outside the entrance of Newgrange
When my family and I visited Newgrange in November 2009, it was is an unexpected feeling to wait in the darkness, as people did 5,000 years ago, for the longest night of the year to end, while our guide shown a light representing the winter solstice sunrise. The accuracy of Newgrange is incredible; especially when one considers that it was built 500 years before the Great Pyramids and more than 1,000 years before Stonehenge.
I like having all the seasons, as we do in Lake City. I have an understanding of the power of nature. We had an unprecedented amount of snowfall last winter which caused an unprecedented amount of avalanches. Those who don’t live here appear to be unable to comprehend why we would want to live here in the winter. Our house with its lack of a comfortable heat source is unusual and still we love it, it is our choice. Not only is our unique location incredibly amazing but there’s a specialness about this time of the year that I’ve never experienced anywhere else and I’ve lived in numerous different places and circumstances, including other settings in the countryside.
Perhaps it is exactly because I’ve lived in different environments, worshiped in different types of churches and have traveled more than most, though a lot less than some – that I know that there is more than ‘my way’ of living and finding joy and contentment.
To me, there is a uniquely beautiful and mysterious feeling to winter where we live in the mountains. I feel the bone formation of being one with the mountainside – the awesome loneliness of it, feeling winter’s breath. Something amazing sleeps underneath. There is a comfy retreat about winter which no other season gives you….only in the winter, in the midst of nature, can you have longer, settled down stretches when you can savor being in the right place with yourself.
Our sheltie girl Joy take pleasure in our fireplace
Our fireplace is hot now, filling our little living space with warm air. The scent of freshly baked bread calls out for delicious sandwiches to be enjoyed for lunch. My husband, wrapping Christmas presents, delights in the large rolls of gift paper I bought on a recent shopping trip to the nearby town of Gunnison. Live is good – little joys are the best. A wine spritzer or mug of hot chocolate, with or without a good book, in front of the fire – I’m happy.
Our nature trail
Today’s sunny blue, blue skies are to go from 2 to 40 – love it! With our dogs we walk the nature trail breathing clean air, no crowds or traffic noises but the soft freezing sounds of the river. We can go into town but we don’t have to live there. Happily we can retreat into our own little sanctuary – our nature trail or home. Idyllic.
What to you love about where you live? Have you lived any place vastly different than where you live now? Have you always lived in the same place – tell me about it.
“May you live all the days of your life.” J. Swift
5 thoughts on “Winter Solstice”
I love your ‘awesome’ loneliness / one with the winter mountain metaphor in this entry. Quiet. Alone, but not lonely, one with the mountain. Interesting to contemplate. ☺️ Thank you!
I grew up in a small city in West Texas, always in touch with the horizon, with wide open spaces. My parents loved it and the mild temperatures & the dry heat and passed on their love and appreciation for ‘being able to see the sky as far as the horizon’ vs inhibited by trees and hills. I spent four years in the panhandle of Texas with its mesas and caprock and enjoyed visits with new friends from the eastern panhandle to see its beautiful quiet, grassy rolling hills.
Despite their love for the Permian Basin, my parents passed on their love for visiting the tree filled Rocky Mountains covered with streams and forests, annually or whenever possible. As soon as I graduated from college, I sought a job in central Texas with rolling hills and trees! Haha!
I loved experiencing Lake City this fall, your valley, meeting your friends and some in your community. I understand why you love calling it home. ❤️🤗
Though perhaps very difficult in the moment of moving and being the new person, it’s interesting to have the perspective of living in different places. I would have never know how much I appreciate have 4 real seasons if I’d always lived in the south.
While I have always sought out the green spaces of our yard and gardens as well as public parks – there’s nothing like ‘living’ with a mountain, being so connected to the mountain that it seems like a friend. Crystal Peak is in my writing nook, in our living space, viewed from my favorite chair, on our deck, our nature trail…
The weather viewed coming off Crystal is what we are going to experience next. Lifting the shade in the morning or pulling it down at night, Crystal Peak is our first and last view of the outside.
Susie, I too am so glad you were personally able to share our valley, our nature trail, our little mountain village and our friend Crystal Peak. It’s the difference between seeing a picture of a famous place or painting and seeing it in real life! Hugs ~
Hi Julie, I really enjoy reading your posts. The pictures of where you live are beautiful. Merry Christmas & a Happy,Healthy, Blessed New Year to you & Bruce.
Blessings to you my friend! Yes, we do indeed live in a beautiful corner of the world…
Love watching sunset every night 1