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It’s going to be a long winter

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Alpine marmots near the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria, http://www.bing.com/

Today was the first bright, clear Groundhog day I can remember seeing in years. Usually it is overcast here and I feel like I can look forward to crocuses a little sooner than March 21st but it is a silly game isn’t it?

Here is a bit about Groundhog day to refresh your memory about the rhyme and what it means.

February 2nd, Groundhog day

It was also known as Candlemas or Imbolc in the old European Calendar. This is the day that Christmas or Yule decorations must officially come down. Here is the full poem for the day from the old Almanack:

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,

Winter will have another flight.

If Candlemas day be clouds and rain,

Winter is gone, and will not come again.

~ E. Holden

The US tradition honors the groundhog, or marmot, as the local weather prognosticator. Other regions honored the fox, the robin and a host of other animals. The animal chosen is not important, nor is the forecast supposed to relate to a whole country, but is said to describe a local microclimate phenomenon. So don’t look at the News, look out your window.

Here is a historical tradition,

In France, February 2nd is known as National Crepe Day—a lot of crepes are consumed, and people try their luck at guessing their fortunes while they cook them. As they hold the crepe pan in one hand and a coin in the other, they flip the crepe to see if they can catch it in the pan. A successful catch means prosperity for the year!

That one came straight from my Zojirushi newsletter, breakfast edition.

Some fun links:

The American Ground Hog: Click here to visit Punxatawney Phil’s official site.

For some of the science behind the tradition, yes, there is a wee bit of science, see the Farmer’s Almanac article.

Most importantly, watch Groundhog Day again. I love this movie.

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Goodbye 2016!

I’ll admit the first thing I did this morning was check the 2016 deaths for the full tally now that this awful year is officially over. Remember we started the year with Alan Rickman and David Bowie, continued with Paul Kantner, Prince and Muhammad Ali, Patty Duke, Harper Lee, Gene Wilder and John Glenn, finally ending with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

Here is the full recap of the year, not just the deaths, so you remember that these were only a few among so many others: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016#Deaths

 


Just watched Elf!

And it’s just as funny as ever…


Where’s Santa

Kyoto, JapanJakarta, Indonesia

Are you watching for Santa?

You and the kids can track Santa’s progress all day and night on Norad’s Official Santa Tracker right here: http://www.noradsanta.org/ He and the reindeer and heading toward Drammen Norway right now…


Happy Solstice!

snowflake-mdThe Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st this year, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. At the Winter Solstice, the Sun enters the part of the space-time continuum belonging to Capricorn. This is the official first day of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. The word Solstice is derived from the Latin sol, or “Sun,” and stitium, or “stoppage.” At the Solstice, the Sun appears to both rise and set at the same spot on the horizon.

On or around June 21, the Summer Solstice, the North Pole is tilted most directly Sunward. Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere experience this as the longest day and shortest night of the year. On or around December 21, the Winter Solstice, the North Pole is pointed away from the Sun giving us in the Northern Hemisphere, our shortest day and longest night. It is this tilting of the Earth’s rotational axis that gives us our seasons. If you want more information on how this works, just ask and I can recommend some articles and books that explain it really well. I don’t know about you, but to me, the important part of this is that from here on out, we get a few minutes more of daylight each day, until the Summer Solstice, that is.

Symbols of Winter:

Snow, bare-branched trees, icicles, yule log, Santa Claus with his elves and reindeer, a crèche with Magi and star, etc.

Foods of Winter:

Mulled cider, brandy, eggnog, Julekake, fruitcake, pumpkin, nuts, yams, satsumas, candy canes and fudge, spices.

Colors of Winter:

Blue and white, silver and gold, red and green.

Stones of Winter:

Capricorn is represented by onyx, hematite and garnet.
Aquarius is represented by pietersite, malachite and amethyst.
Pisces is represented by aquamarine, and turquoise and jade.

Activities of Winter:

Skiing and snowshoeing, hanging up lights and decorations, Holiday celebrations, shoveling snow and watching movies like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, Christmas in Connecticut, White Christmas, Die Hard, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation…

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Did you see that Harvest Moon?

I found it interesting that there is still so much confusion about what Harvest Moon means. Many sites including NASA seem to think it is just the full Moon in September but it isn’t quite that simple. In a terribly oversimplified explanation what you are seeing is the solar calendar (the months) and the lunar calendar not lining up very well. The following text is from the Farmer’s Almanac:

The Harvest Moon is the one that occurs the closest to the Autumnal Equinox so this year it occurs in September, although occasionally this title can be bestowed upon the October full Moon. From 1970 to 2020 this happens twelve times and, in fact, will happen in 2017. The 2016 version of the Harvest Moon comes six days prior to the Autumnal Equinox, although it can occur as early as September 8 (as in 2014) or as late as October 7 (as in 1987).

Source article: http://farmersalmanac.com/astronomy/2016/09/12/harvest-moon-2016/


The Summer Solstice

English: Illumination of Earth by Sun on the d...

Illumination of Earth by Sun on the day of winter solstice on northern hemisphere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And a Happy Solstice to All!

Summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere on June 20, 2015 this year coinciding with a Full Moon. The word Solstice is Latin in origin and translates as, Sol =the Sun, + stitere =standing still.

On that day, the North Pole tilts most directly Sunward. Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere experience this as the longest day and shortest night of the year. Around December 21, the Winter Solstice, the North Pole points away from the Sun giving us in the Northern Hemisphere, our shortest day, and longest night. This tilting of the Earth’s rotational axis gives us our seasons. During each Solstice, the Sun appears to both rise and set at the exactly opposite spot on the horizon. The Solar Calendars like Stonehenge and the Sun Dagger in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico operate by indicating this point.

Symbols of Summer:

The rose, the fast-growing vine and the bright sun. Modern symbols include flip-flops, Outdoor weddings, icy pitchers of lemonade, beach umbrellas and baseball games!

Foods of Summer:

Fruits, fresh picked vegetables, pickled salads, cold soups, tomatoes, and iced tea.

Colors of Summer:

Brights: lime green, lemon yellow, sunny orange, sky blue.

The Zodiacal Signs of Summer:

The solstice is the first day of Cancer – July 22, Leo from July 23 – August 22, and Virgo from August 23 – September 8 this  year.

The Stones of Summer:

Cancer resonates with white stones like shell and pearl. Leo with gold stones like citrine and tiger-eye. Virgo with blue stones like sodalite and sapphire.

Activities of Summer:

picnics, gardening, parades and festivals, fireworks, weeding, swimming outside.

Links:

The Farmer’s Almanac’s Solstice Page

The Empire of the Sun a Museum exhibit from Denmark, roughly translated into English

The Chaco Canyon Sun Dagger petroglyphs

The Solstice Project: A Research Project about Fajada Butte

An interactive model of the Sun Dagger.

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