Goodbye shortest day

Tuesday, Dec. 21 was the winter solstice — the day of the year with the shortest period of daylight. The sun is low in my south sky; it barely clears the treetops it seems before it plops out of sight before tea time. But, yay — thanks to a miracle of our universe — the days will now grow a little lighter each day until that giant leap to daylight saving time begins, Sunday, March 13 — 84 days. Curiously, the length of the day doesn’t increase evenly in morning and evening, but gets longer by adding minutes seemingly randomly in morning, evening or both.

Two different “winters”

The winter solstice — the beginning of the winter most of us think of — is the first day of the astronomical winter. It’s no where near the the coldest day of the year, though. That comes during the meteorological winter, which is December through February. The astronomical year is noted by two solstices which happen around June 21 and around Dec. 22, and the two equinoxes on or around March 21 and Sept. 22. These have been used to define seasons since people started thinking about time, and there’s a lot of tradition, ritual and romance associated with them. The meteorological seasons were established in the 1950s to reflect the temperature changes more accurately. They begin the first day of December, March, June and September. The astronomical seasons are related to position of the earth relative to the Sun. Meteorological seasons are related to the annual temperature cycle. Simple.

Recycling

Right after Christmas, the amount of trash going to the transfer station spikes for a week or two. Much of it is recyclable, but here are a few cautions and reminders. Things easily recycled include cardboard boxes and paper wrapping, but not mylar or cellophane. That goes into our handy-dandy green trash bags. Plastic decorations you’re not re-using go in the trash. String lights go in the trash. Fake trees? Reuse or dispose in trash. Styrofoam, bubble wrap, plastic envelopes, and aluminum foil go into the green bags, too. It seems like a lot. Be encouraged that everything in the green trash bags goes from TriCounty to be incinerated and transformed into energy. So, it’s not a total loss, although it will be much better when real recycling can happen with these products. Questions about recycling? Check out the EcoMaine Recyclopedia at www.ecomaine.org/101 or get the app.

For the 25th time (at least)

Please have a smoke detector. And pass the word around that Washingtonites can be protected free — renters as well as owners. Washington Fire Department will provide a smoke detector. Call the Town Office at 845-2897, or Fire Department at 845-2245, and leave a message you want a free smoke detector and someone will call you back to make a plan to get one.

Christmas Eve service

Washington Village Church will have a Christmas Eve Service Friday, Dec. 24 at 6 p.m.

Yes, it’s Christmas. I share with you my long time favorite essay by Patricia Curtis originally printed in the 1974 “Family Circle” magazine.

Ten Reasons Why I Believe in Christmas

“Because when human beings do something cruel or mean to other human beings, there’s always somebody who protests. Because babies are born. Because when a sea creature, dumb and almost insentient, forms a shell around itself, it makes mathematically perfect whorls and exquisite colors and the most gloriously complex patterns. Because when things are tough, there’s always somebody who can make you laugh anyway. Because most of us feel guilty when we lie or cheat or steal. Because you can plant a sunflower seed in the ground and be sure that if anything comes up, and it probably will, it will most certainly be a sunflower and won’t double-cross you and come up a petunia instead. Because of the way snow enshrouds the harshest city with marvelous soft white contours and mutes the city noises softly. Because if you open yourself to it, you can commune with animals and even with plants and other forms of life we share this planet with. Because pain eventually goes away. Because even if some people believe it is a legend and not a precisely true event, I think the story of that baby in the manger, the angels, the shepherds and what it all meant to the world is still the most beautiful story I ever heard.”

. . . and because pain eventually goes away. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.