Contrary to popular belief, today is New Year’s Eve.
“What?” you’re thinking, “has Paz lost it? Is he in another time zone?”
My time zone is the cosmos, and at 6:03 pm on the 21st of December is the winter solstice. Happy New Year!
I live in the world, not in a paper calendar.
I live by sun and moon and stars.
My only clock is the universe, ever-expanding and ancient, yet consistent, predictable and comfortable here on my tiny rock, out here near the edge of an arm of the Milky Way.
Days get shorter from the celebrated Longest Day in June. Thinking of today, the Shortest Day, in early summer, brings perspective to this time thing.
“Here we go.” I’ll say to Chuy, on June the 22nd, “it’s downhill from here.”
Yet it is now, at the winter solstice, that this viewpoint is truly appreciated.
Some may say we’re entering winter.
Some may say we’ll have months of bleak, cold, frozen darkness before our world becomes alive again.
Some mourn the passing of summer and fall.
Some look to their paper universe for a graphic representation of the remainder of their sentences.
January, February, March and April, the days stacked like snowflakes, snow drifts that must be tunneled through, frozen expanses of ice that must be traversed. Hunkered down, shuttered in, braced for cold, rigged for storms. The now and the next filled with taxing burdens, dangers even.
Here at Holiday House, there is a celebration going on.
Tomorrow our tiny, insignificant rock crosses an imaginary line, riding its little disc in the plane of our solar system.
Today the famous North Pole, still days from the launch of the Big Red Sled, leans away from our little orange star. We spin on our top, to days that are a few, dimly lit hours up there in caribou country, in the land of igloos and polar bears.
Here in the northeast US, sunlight works a day shorter than mine, but that’s about to change!
Happy New Year, as from this day ’til June, each day will be a little brighter. Each day brings us closer to treasures stowed for winter. Leaves and flowers and summer tanagers. Shirtsleeve weather, swimming, wading the pond for bass.
Frankly, the Julian calendar makes no sense to me. In this forced-labeling of order invented by humans, this clock and calendar record-keeping mindset, the ancients even deferred to the cosmos. The 24 hours divided by 6’s. The 28 days of the moon, seven times four, the weeks of a lunar month.
But somewhere, somehow, somebody thought the universe, the great cosmic clocks, could be relegated to paper, bound by calfskin.
Let’s randomly add a few extra days to our lunar months. Let’s add a whole day every four years because the universe will not coöperate, and change to fit our needs. Let’s ignore the giant flaming atomic ball burning a scant 94 million miles away. Let’s ignore the equator and the moon, and we’ll call New Year’s day, oh, I dunno, how does “January First” sound?
Gosh! January First! It sounds so beginning-like! Great name. On which point shall we place it?
Spring Equinox, when the waistband of our world swings past zero and the warmth of the sun climbs the latitudes?
Summer solstice? A New Year’s Day to mark the countdown to this very same point next year, the strawberry moon and the bursting of everything green and growing?
How about the Autumnal Equinox, as our hemisphere takes down all the green decorations, shuts down the machines of growth and expansion, admonishes mammals to “Prepare!”?
It seems Winter Solstice might be the best choice for your holiday. This is truly the day that begins our march into a new year.
From here, each day is longer, we’re making gains. Each day is a looking-forward to good changes. The relief at the end of winter, no matter how much you’ve enjoyed the season. The breaking of spring, turning the soil, planting and growing. Long days of summer, all the outdoors time you could want. The luxuriating under the starfield, lying on the lawn and watching for shooting stars.
Yes. This is without a doubt, the beginning of my New Year.
You may not hear from me tomorrow, as I’ll be celebrating tonight.
And tomorrow, Chuy and I will be out in it with a renewed fervor, calling to the sun, “Come on back!”. We’ll measure that extra moment at sunset.
From this tiny speck on this tiny rock, to anywhere the call can be heard:
Happy New Year!
Be at peace,