Friday, November 28, 2014



Officially, winter north of the equator begins on December 21, 2014, three weeks away from publication date. We’re still in fall.

However, not me, not mentally anyway. Mentally, I’m into winter already. All the signs are here.

Right now we have about 14 hours of darkness versus 10 hours of daylight. Sunset at 4:30 p.m. Sunrise at 7:30 a.m.  

File:Snow at the Lake.jpg

Whyskytown Nation, California snow scene

However, not me, not mentally anyway. Mentally, I’m into winter already. All the signs are here.
Right now we have about 14 hours of darkness versus 10 hours of daylight. Sunset at 4:30 p.m. Sunrise at 7:30 a.m.  

C O L D prevails. Here in the Northwest we woke up this morning to an official WEATHER ALERT: nighttime temperatures of 10 degrees in Central Oregon and below freezing in Portland, with snow possible all over the state, especially in the mountains. Already, at 10 a.m. Friday, outside temperatures are falling and it’s raining cats and dogs. An arctic blast is expected in from Canada tonight, November 28, 2014.

My Portland, OR family of five—well, hmmm, we’re setting out from Portland for Central Oregon tomorrow, Saturday, in a car equipped with traction tires. We hope for a trouble free trip. I remember my many wintertime childhood family trips from Tacoma to Spokane over 3,500 foot Snoqualmie Pass: Dad getting out in the darkness to put on tire chains, snow falling too fast for the windshield wipers to clear, long lines of cars and trucks inching ahead to clear the summit.

More signs of winter: the snowbird migration is well underway from northern states to the south. Another sign: many in my neighborhood are installing winter lighting on their houses and garages. I’ve seen lighting displays for dozens of years. I remember the Christmas tree at Ninth and Broadway in downtown Tacoma. I recall the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center, NYC. My favorite sight is the outline of a farm building twinkling in an otherwise black night scene. Lucy recalls such a scene from years ago along Highway 101 between Hebo (search for Hebo, OR on a map. It’s there!) and Tillamook. Other signs that fall is past: the piles of maple leaves in the gutters; the creeks and rivers flooding their streambeds.

Even in tropical West Africa I've spent many cold nights in December and January, shivering in the cold air of the Harmattan wind flowing west out to the Atlantic.

Offsets to winter cold and darkness. Sitting by a fireplace, skiing, Christmas caroling. Vividly, I remember gathering with others from my church group in Tacoma to Christmas carol entire neighborhoods, or sometimes just the homes of shut-ins (people too elderly or too ill to leave home during the winter). More on my list: Christmas foods, especially cookies.  My mom baked them by the b’jillion, I think. I’m so lucky that my wife is a great baker, too.

(Should I mention my memory of the world's highest-elected stuntman, President Vladimir Putin, using a motorized wing to lead a couple of storks on their first winter migration south in 2013?)

Let me recommend a gem of a winter book. If you haven’t seen the film or read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, go to the library or a bookstore right now to get it. You’ll find a White Witch who rules a frozen, evil land permanently enthralled in deep winter. You’ll meet talking animals including Aslan, the lion. Aslan, a central character, is a benevolent lion who dies for a very troubled boy.

Winter reminds us of the first days in the life of Jesus, the Light of the World, born in the darkness of a stable, caroled (sung to) by angels.

Yep: get the whole winter mentality. It’s not strictly about only dark days and nights. Even in winter, there’s a lot of light, warmth and joy.

(There's much more on childhood winter joys in the book, Growing Green Two Ways!   Get it now for winter reading.)

Photo: Whyskytown Nation Recreation Area, CA. National Park Service photo in the public domain via Wikimediacom.


At December 15, 2014 at 6:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You probably forgot the Christmas ensemble of you, Sally, Janice, Ken, etc. conducted by your dad1


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