Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘solstice’

Welcome the New Year!

Solstice Sun

A circle is one of the most common shapes in our Great Cosmos (silica-based crystal chain structures right behind), and it is today our New Circle begins. In my view, today begins the new year. As our almost-perfect circle planet revolves around its perfect-circle sun in a far-from-perfect ellipse of an orbit, the Winter Solstice marks the top of the curve. Now days begin to lengthen incrementally for the next six moons until we reach the opposite end of our rolling year, and the longest day of Summer Solstice.

This marks a point on my journey. Like returning to home port, or passing the same old oak on a favorite trail. It is an ending and beginning in a single stroke. It is a benchmark, a touchstone, a point along a very long line when I make a hash mark as I hurtle past. There’s a slight thrill seeing the 57 past hash marks, and a certain excitement as I reach out, take a swing, and hang on for another orbit, another grand circle in the concentric and overlapping circles that make up the life of an old Armchair Zen master.

Not only is the New Year commenced, but also the “official” season of winter. Life in a Northern Town takes winter in stride. Not only passively, but in tangible and active ways. The Yankee winter is an integral part of our lives. It serves a great purpose for those of us that will undertake the understanding of it. It’s a trial and a test and a testament to our spirits. Not just surviving winter, bit thriving within and through it.

Each year, our Earth sort of throws down a gauntlet. Each year, we rise to the challenge and pick it up. It’s not all about active young people oblivious to cold and snow, skiing the High Peaks and snowmobiling 27 miles up the frozen Sacandaga Lake. It’s about the everyday and the mundane. Firing furnaces, sealing up drafts, shoveling the steps. Getting out the “Let It Snow” box filled with hats and gloves and scarves and mittens. It’s about getting to work when it’s 18 degrees and there’s four inches of snow on the road and it’s forecast to fall all day. It’s about walking the dog and fetching the mail from the box, checking the car’s oil and unloading the wood pellets while frigid air tries to sneak in around your collar, while your fingers grow numb with cold.

And when winter is done, there’s more reward than the flowers of spring and the return of American Robins. Even for those that may be unaware, surviving and thriving through a Yankee winter reminds us of just how strong we are. A reminder that gives us the strength to carry on for another year, another wonder-filled lap around our atomic anchor.

I have a covenant with winter. A vow to honor and cherish and forsake all other seasons when she comes to call, all gleaming and silver. I welcome and embrace her with open arms. Revere her. Laud her beauty. In return, she brings me gifts.

A quadrillion snowflakes. Vast tracts of ice-covered ponds and lakes.

Glazed hoarfrost dawns and golden ice-ringed sunsets.

Birds, the color of summer flowers, blue and red, black and white and yellow.

Like the migrations of fall or tulips of spring, she returns faithfully each year to me. She covers me with her downy quilt and beckons me to slumber.

Yet within each hour are wonders, joys and beauties to behold. Adventures to seek as only Dear Winter can oblige.

She calls me forth from my den, to drink it all in.

Before it is gone.


Happy New Year, and Merry Christmas to those that observe it.

May the peace of the Cosmos find you and keep you throughout the year.



Solstice Day

Happy New Year!

Celestial Celebration

Celestial Celebration


In a world that follows the rhythm of the cosmos and the heartbeat of Mother Earth, tomorrow is New Year’s Day.

Today our globe reaches the point when its crooked and wobbling circuit of the sun finds the Northern Latitudes tilted away from the nuclear heart of our solar system.

It was beautiful sunrise for Solstice Day. Bright blue patches of infinity showed between streaks of billowing clouds. Classic tri-color clouds of white, blue and gray; and others painted with the pink peach of wintry dawns. Passing woods, one can see deeply into them, their floors carpeted with pristine snow, the white birches standing out like shoots of snow growing vertically. The golden copper oak leaves evoke thoughts of Christmas kitchen kettles. Frozen mists are seen at distance, hovering over Pigliavento’s sleeping greenhouses. Finally, the sun crawls over the clouds of the horizon and the lights come on for a shiny new day.

The half-moon hangs in the morning sky, upside down, out in the daytime, providing a celestial metaphor for the occasion. We are half-way around the year. As far as we can get from the greenery and flowers of summer, shirt-sleeve weather, the drama of thunder & lightning, the long evenings watching the sunset past nine o’clock.

Today, our shortest day, finds us at the extent of our solar season, far-flung and stretched like a rubber band, our globe pulling against the gravity anchor, the sun holding tight to the reins as we hurtle through space at six hundred kilometers per second, beginning the turn toward the new year.

Days get incrementally longer now, a thought I find exciting and encouraging. Solstice Day has many facets; it marks a circle closing, the circle of seasons, the circle of the year, a circle-within-a-circle of my life. Now it feels as though we are half way round. Half the leafless season of cold is past. The circle seems to get shorter, pass more quickly, each year I count. Regarding troubles, we are glad this time is behind us. Remembering joys and the magic of wonder, we are glad to have added these pages to our life book.

And now we can do that singularly-human thing: we can imagine what our future holds. For by the time I reach New Year’s Day again, that is, the next winter solstice (if I am still here), I will have lived and loved, wondered and marveled, kissed and hugged, fished and hiked and boated and camped my way through another chapter, all the way around another circle.

I count blessings and embrace the good and joy that surrounds me now. I cleave to these thoughts, never knowing what our next course around the sun will bring.

May the peace of the cosmos find you this holiday season, and may good fortune follow you throughout the year.

Look at this mess!

Look at this mess!

Happy New Year!



Happy New Year!

Solstice Day

Solstice Day

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.

Snow on Pines

Snow on Pines

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.

Crossing the Equator

Crossing the Equator

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,



Solstices & Red Sands

Mars Winter

Mars Winter



It begins back at the winter solstice. The time these humans have labeled December.

It’s an absolute leap of faith to look out upon the frozen tundra before me, waist-deep in drifting snow, to look up at the crystal clear starfield overhead, bright and brilliant seen through air that’s well below freezing, and to know our great green planet is making a shift, beginning her annual tilt, swinging the northern hemisphere toward the sun.


Each day lengthens, and from that point forward my mind is focused on the Longest Day, the summer solstice. Each day the sun’s arc swings northward, skating the ridgetop of Victory Mountain. Each morning gets brighter until the magical day when the sun arises at the same time as me.





Perhaps only a madman would “rage against the dying of the light”. Only a fool would watch and celebrate the imperceptibly slow revolution of our world, the gains of daylight, which our planet consistently delivers like cosmic clockwork.


These are things that are real, predictable, dependable, understandable. If these events were to change, if the year unfolded itself in a new and unprecedented way, it could only mean disaster at some level to the world we’ve come to know.


Alas, these days I question my logic, my approach, my eagerness to chase after the sun and the solstices.


Is this akin to rushing through the Fun House at the carnival because you want to get to the end? In doing so, we cut short the time we are enjoying the Fun House, we forfeit the extra time we’ve paid for. We rush through our only chance at this once-a-year offering.





“Time is not holding us. Time is not after us.”, or so say The Talking Heads.


These days it seems that time is a commodity. Carve out this chunk for work and this chunk for sleep. Write off those portions claimed by others for birthdays, weddings, funerals, dinner parties and club picnics.


I raise the giant sand hourglass that is my life. Like Dorothy in the castle of the Wicked Witch, I gaze at the red sand ceaselessly flowing, draining. Running out.


There’s no bucket list, no unfulfilled lifelong dream. I’m not that complicated, organized or energetic. There is, however, still a lot of work to do, and I’m not sure how much I can cram in before the red sand runs out.


I’ve heard folks say, interpreting Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening”, that there’s symbolism in there for suicide. The line “The woods are lovely, dark and deep,” seems to evoke an impression among people that the author wishes to lay down and die here and now.


Of course, the next two lines are: “But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” I think Frost was just watching the red sand flow. Wanting to take a break and rest, maybe wanting to lay his burden down.


Yet each day we awake and have a little more time before us. A few more miles, a few more promises fulfilled. And so it goes.


Forked Lake Sunset

Forked Lake Sunset


The Talking Heads are right, of course. Time is not holding us, time is not after us. There is potentially plenty of wisdom, symbolism and philosophy in that little ditty.


Of course, The Talking Heads also say “There is water at the bottom of the ocean.”


No denying the logic, I suppose.


Both statements are true and accurate.


And the red sands flow.



Be at peace,



What year is it?

Clocks and calendars. Measuring sticks.

Mechanical human creations. To “keep track” of time.

An attempt to force order on the universe’s chaos?



In the west, yesterday marked the first day of the new calendar year 2014.

Everyone that marches to this calendar perceives this as a new time period. A new beginning of a record of time.

Folks are filled with ideas for commitment to goals, they call them “New Year’s Resolutions”.

I find my resolutions to be no different than at any other time of the year.

Take time to wonder. Share blessings. See the beauty in all things.

Remember you are but a flash in the universe’s timeline. A tiny unseen spark on a tiny rock, one of trillions of rocks riding the invisible gravity train around a star.

You live in a galaxy hurtling through space at 600 kilometers per second, bound on a collision course with a neighboring galaxy. Every moment is good fortune!

In Armchair Zen world, the year has already started. It began with the solstice.

It began at the time the Earth stopped tilting her frozen North Pole away from the sun.

The subtle, imperceptible yet predictable pause in the rocking of the planet, as it begins the swing back toward summer solstice.

Prior to this, since the Julian June, days became shorter a couple minutes at a time.

Now the pendulum swings past center, and the arc rises.

The “new” year is the same as the “old” year as far as the universe is concerned.

If you had to put a number on it, it would really be something like 14,500,000,000.

No wait: for those super-ordered buffs, let’s say it’s 14,500,000,001.

I hear a giant mechanical gear in a giant mechanical clockpiece, creaking and grinding as it throws another lever and drops a number for another year.

Perhaps that’s someone’s order of the universe.

Mine is counted in heartbeats.



My heartbeat, slow & steady, as I rock my baby granddaughter. My wife’s, unsteady as a newborn foal, as she palpitates her way through another year.

Counted in breaths of air.

Cold air, warm air, dusty & dry, smelling like rain, smelling like snow, smelling the mud of spring, the fishes of summer, the crisp leaves of autumn.

October rain

October rain

Counted in silent moments of awe-inspiring beauty, in the unspoken communication of eyes meeting.

In the automatic and natural gesture of holding hands.

Counted in the rare moments that will never repeat.

A captivating sunset, prisms in the grass, rainbows, ice-off, the first freeze.


Bowmaker morning

Bowmaker morning

Each day brings a new start. Any given day could be numbered “ONE”, the first of 365.25 consecutive days that represent that measuring stick called a year.

Yes, every day is a new day. Every day is a new year’s day.

So whether you follow the sun, the moon, the stars or the Julian calendar, my wish for you is good fortune in great measure.

Oh yeah, and good luck with those resolutions.

Be at peace,


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