Thursday, December 20, 2012


The earliest winter since 1896 arrives at 6:12 AM tomorrow, December 21st.  The Old Farmer's Almanac describes the First Day of Winter:

"The word solstice comes from the Latin words for "sun" and "to stand still.” In the Northern Hemisphere, as summer advances to winter, the points on the horizon where the Sun rises and sets advance southward each day; the high point in the Sun’s daily path across the sky, which occurs at local noon, also moves southward each day. At the winter solstice, the Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position. The next day, the path will advance northward. However, a few days before and after the winter solstice, the change is so slight that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still. The Sun is directly overhead at "high-noon" on Winter Solstice at the latitude called the Tropic of Capricorn.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice days are the days with the fewest hours of sunlight during the whole year."

Why is there such a large lag between the first day of winter and the coldest day of the year?

"Answer: This is the shortest day of the year—the time when the Sun reaches its southernmost point in the sky. Although this part of Earth is cooling, its great thermal mass still retains some heat from the summer and fall. As the gradual cooling process continues over the next two months, temperatures will continue to fall, and the coldest temperatures will be recorded. The same pattern holds true for the summer solstice in June, as the year's highest temperatures are recorded later, in July and August."

So stay warm, dream about  the planting to be done, the weeding to be done, the watering to be done, and the spring that is sure to come.