It was the last full moon appearing on a winter solstice until the year 2094, which I don’t anticipate seeing. There was also meteor shower expected. My wife had left for her work party that had seemed unlikely for me to avoid, but after a sudden turn for the worse, I was home alone with the dogs. This left me an opportunity to do something special, on my own. It was a no-brainer: I would celebrate the Winter Solstice.
The dogs followed me out into the freezing cold. They were more than happy to join me, not caring about the weather or lack of light. I thought splitting some firewood might do me some good, so I started swinging the maul while trustworthy Champ wandered around in the dark. I attached Roxy’s retracting leash to a log she would not easily drag around.
Champ did his usual thing, fixing himself above a vermin’s burrow as if it might stick it’s head out at any moment. I got blurry shot of this spectacle in the dark with my phone. I don’t need to worry, he’s found a situation to monitor, and it could last for the entire night if I don’t call him away.
The full moon was bright, creating a wonderful winter feeling in the crisp air. As a night to enjoy my first Winter Solstice celebration, I didn’t bother going to get the tripod or SLR once I discovered the phone was in my coat pocket.
I sat down by the fire. On one side I could barely make out Champ, hovering above his suspected prey, and Roxy on the other side, looking out into the darkness. Many times I’ve seen this old dog with cataracts tracking stuff in the darkness that I was totally unaware of until I turned on my headlamp. I know she sees things. Champ only cares about vermin.
My mind wandered as I watched the growing fire, just as human beings have for centuries. I opened a beer and it was cold. It felt good to relax by the fire as the full moon made it’s way overhead. It was just below freezing when we walked out the door, and it was quite bit colder now. It wasn’t long before Roxy let out a little whine, indicating she was either cold or bored.
We adopted Roxy when she was nine and I admit I there’s a lot of things I don’t yet understand in her behavior. I feel sure she’s been abused at times because although she was affectionate when we adopted her, she would cower and wince as a hand came towards her. She still does this, but not as much. I started by patting her on the chest, which she responded to. Now, when I touch her face, she squints a bit but then tilts her head into it, wanting more. It’s the sweetest thing, and I feel fortunate to have won her trust, especially since she seemed especially intimidated by men at first. It proves that even old dogs can eventually become trustful of people, and to learn new things.
I walked over and picked her up, which is becoming more acceptable. I set her down in a chair near the fire to warm her up. She stayed put and seemed to enjoy the heat. I told her to stay and was pleased that she obliged as I walked away to get some commemoration shots.
Sitting back down with my beer, Roxy seemed totally content. Champ may have been doing some digging, but I generally don’t care, especially this far away from the house. I was happy, the dogs were happy.
I liked the fact that my beer temperature was now probably below freezing in the chilly air, the alcohol not allowing it to ice up. I got up occasionally to view the moonlight-lit landscape around me and check on Champ, still guarding the burrow. I saw the familiar neighbor’s house, probably a mile away and the only structure visible from our property. Their lights were on and I wondered what they might be up to on this beautiful Friday evening.
At about 10:00 my wife came driving up the road, and of course, the dogs took off barking. Retrieving Roxy, I threw a couple more logs on the fire as she came out to join us. We sat and talked about the party, which she said was very loud. A couple of the other tag-along husbands who had been dragged to this holiday wingding weren’t happy to learn that I had wormed my way out. If only I wasn’t feeling so under the weather (cough, cough)! We sat for another hour or so, agreeing that it would be fun to celebrate the winter solstice in this manner again.
It was special night, spent with three of my favorite creatures. Unfortunately, the next morning I felt a little worse, experiencing a little vertigo and an even worse hack. The vertigo was a new thing, and I attribute it to the virus. I took it easy all day, spending a little time to document my first celebration of “Midwinter”. Today I’m doing much better and expect to be 100% by Christmas.
Throughout history, many cultures have taken notice of this day, and to me it seems worthy to celebrate. But Stonehenge is too far away, and I like having traditions of my own. Even though it’s just the beginning of winter, the darkness trend has reversed, along with my attitude. Simply knowing the sunlight will last a little longer each day always gives me hope. That’s reason enough for me to toast the solstice. I hope we do it again next year.