Long shadows of winter’s solstice

Winter here on the 41-degree latitude brings chilling winds, mostly from the northwest. Vistas into the woods lengthen in the absence of leaves. The landscape’s pallet looses chroma and brilliance. Shadows stretch to their longest, even at noon. And that noon arrives at its annual earliest, daylight itself shortened to a brief nine hours.

The habit of seasons gives our trees the problem of provisioning for severe cold, on the one hand, and high heat of the other. The sweep of temperatures can be accompanied by too much or too little moisture. I empathize with our trees. A temperate climate keeps us living creatures a little out of balance or at least weighing tradeoffs.

And so it is with shadows and the length of the day. The longest shadows, the lowest arc the sun makes through the sky, the shortest day are the trademarks of autumn. The wind may pick up in winter, the temperature may drop precipitously, snow may fall but for sure the days start getting longer. This most reliable condition is, for me, the salvation of winter.

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