Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Our Summer Solstice

Tomorrow, Sunday 21 December, will be the Summer Solstice (in the Southern Hemisphere).I am getting in a little bit early, partly because of Christmas festivities, but more particularly because of the vagaries of Robertson sunsets (in this particular early summer season). When the sun set last night (19 December 2008) I was able to snap a shot of the sun setting behind the southern edge of the large Blackwood Wattle tree below my house. With the cloudy weather we have been having recently, I figured this was a close as I am likely to get this year, to recording a "Summer Solstice" sunset - its furthest southerly reach.

The rest of this story is for Leo, my peony-growing colleague in Canada.

You see, we take little note of the Summer Solstice in Australia, for although technically it marks the furthest southerly movement of the Sun, and the longest day, we all know that it is far from the hottest time of the year. The really hot days are not expected until the end of January. Conversely, for Leo, in the northern Hemisphere, there will be a similar delay between now and the coldest period of weather, in Nova Scotia.

But Leo and I both know that our Peonies take their growth cues from the cycles of the sun, rather than the warmth or coldness of the weather. Peonies adjust their growth and flowering times according to the length of the day. So, from tomorrow, Leo will be able to convince himself that his Peonies will be on their way back to growth, and ultimately to next year's flowering period. We Peony growers read the seasons according to the way the Peonies relate to the length of the days.

Leo ended a somewhat sombre email about the recent health problems his beloved canine companion with this note:

Oooo, almost the solstice already. Heavens!

So this post is for Leo - Your Sun will start returning from tomorrow.

This picture was of a particularly early and heavy snow fall on 24 November at Leo's place in Nova Scotia - even Leo thought this was too much snow, too early in the season. The snow drift is approximately 50 cm deep.
No wonder he is looking forward to the Solstice. Personally I could not stand living in such a climate - but as with everything, it is what one is used to , I guess. But we all need an occasional cheering up.

Of course, it is no co-incidence that Christmas and Hanukkah both occur close to the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere - at a time when people have always needed a little cheering up.


mick said...

Great sunset, Denis, and I too am glad that I don't live with all that snow. I tried for 10 years and never got used to it! re the solstice - there's a special solstice birding event planned at and they want to hear from even we folks 'down-under'.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Sad news from Nova Scotia, but Leo's old dog has died. Leo is very sad, despite my attempt to cheer him up.
I shall follow up the Solstice birding link. Thanks

Gaye from the Hunter said...

hi Denis,

I simply cannot imagine living in such a cold climate. Likewise, I guess it must be hard for snow-bound residents like Leo, to imagine living with the heat, dust and flies that is normal for our summers.

My sincere condolences to Leo having lost his canine friend. It is a particularly difficult time to lose a loved-one, and I do hope that Leo can find comfort in the wonderful memories that he must treasure of times spent with his dog.

Merry Christmas to you Denis, and also best wishes to Leo on the other side of the world. Leo might enjoy my Christmas blog entry about one of our colourful Christmas Beetles:


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye

I certainly did enjoy the posting.

Many thanks, and best wishes for Christmas.