A thin glazing, then sunshine
There was a thin glaze of ice this morning out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville. The stair railing was icy, too, but the walks and the streets appeared to have been mostly spared - either because they were still too warm, or treated overnight with salt. Traffic on the way to work was sparse, but moved without difficulty. Here's this morning's ice tally from Sterling. Looks like there was even a dusting of snow to our north and west.
I guess we were spared, especially in light of the nasty weather underway in much of the northern tier of states. Best of all, forecasters out at Sterling are saying these clouds should begin to break up later today, admitting some welcome sunshine after all these days of gloom and rain. Temperatures here at The Sun have already begun to climb above freezing, although the barometer has not yet reversed its dive.
Sunshine would also allow the Winter Solstice program scheduled for the Maryland Science Center this afternoon to include planned eye-safe observations of the sun with the historic Alvin Clark telescope (left). The solstice programs begin at noon. The observatory opens at 1 p.m. (Call 410 545-5940 for more information).
Today is, after all, the date of the winter solstice. At 7:04 this morning the sun ended its long drift toward the south and paused before beginning its return toward Earth's Northern Hemisphere. From here, days begin to grow longer, and the nights shorter. We have already passed the date (Dec. 7) of the earliest sunset. The latest sunrise occurs on Jan. 4.
For some cultures, today was not the beginning of winter, but its mid-point. From here, the days grow longer with a promise of spring and renewed life. It was a time for celebration, and merry-making. There was noisemaking to scare away the evils of winter and deprivation, and bonfires to chase away the dark and bring back light and warmth. That strategy seems to have failed in Seattle this weekend.
I prefer the notion of solstice as mid-winter. The "beginning of winter" suggests we have a long, hard slog ahead. Mid-winter suggests progress and hope. How about you?