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The Sun is returning! Happy Solstice! Happy Yule! Happy ME!
Submitted by Pam on Sun, 12/21/2008 - 18:14
Happy Solstice! The sun is returning! (This is a Nebula around a star or sun.)
"Yule" literally means "wheel," and it's often celebrated at the Winter Solstice, which marks the beginning of a new cycle - a new solar year. It is probably one of the oldest of mankind's ritual celebrations. I always make a point of celebrating this day, when the long, dark nights of winter start to shorten and the days lengthen. I usually celebrate with a big feast, burn a yule log, light lots and lots of candles, put out Farolitos (Luminarias) if weather permits, and drive through local neighborhoods to enjoy the light displays.
Spiral Galaxy - one of my two favorite celestial objects!
Take a few minutes to gaze through the Hubble telescope at the heavens above. Our human habits have clouded our atmosphere with too many pollutants to see the night skys in the same way our early ancestors did. Thank goodness for the Hubble telescope! It is out in space and it sees all!
My other favorite - Whirlpool Galaxy. Wheel. Cycle of Life. Interesting.
Just look at all the galaxies out there!
Millions and millions of them.
Interacting Spiral galaxies ...you did know all this infinite and soul-stirring beauty was out there... right?
Back to earth...
The ancient ones would always bring evergreen plants into their homes at Solstice as a reminder that the cycle of life will eventually bring the return of Spring, and new growth. Usually I follow their lead and bring into my home...
Ivy (It's snowing like crazy! See!)
And, Holly (or Oregon Grape).
But this year, I have received the most amazing gift and reminder of the coming Spring - my pink Epiphyllum is in bloom - right now in the dead of winter! We always bring our Epiplyllums into the garage just before the first frost, since they are really not designed for life in the cold northern states. We have never had a single bloom during the winter months. But we have one this year! Beautiful isn't it? (We stuck a blue screen behind it so you wouldn't have to look at the rest of the garage!)
My backyard OUTSIDE the garage...
And the snow is just starting!
Just outside my kitchen window...
An adult and juvenile Rufous-sided Towhee are grabbing a quick lunch before we get the ice storm.
After an early Solstice feast, we blow out the candles and hop in the car to go visit our favorite neighborhood light displays. This gorgeous tree, growing in Ester Short Park in the heart of downtown Vancouver, is always our first stop. The huge tree is decorated with these beautiful lights every holiday as a gift to the citizens of our little town. I love that the lights are blue, magenta, green and purple. My eyes are happy just gazing at it!
And we wouldn't miss a visit to our favorite "Christmas House", a gift to the residents of Vancouver and Portland from a man with a very big heart. Do you see the moon??? Isn't THAT perfect!
But since we may not be able to visit our beloved lights this year (at least on the Solstice), we may have to settle for a yule log on the fire, a plate of cookies, and a few virtual light displays, like this tour of Christmas Trees at the White House that many of our past presidents have enjoyed.
I thought you might also enjoy a little visit to Iceland for Yule. (The people living in Iceland no doubt really look forward to the return of the sunshine!) In Iceland, the word "Yule" or "Jol" is used for Christmas, so actually you are going to visit Iceland for Christmas!
HAPPY SOLSTICE EVERYONE! I wish you all a stary night that looks like this:
Tomorrow we will have one more minute of sunshine!