If you love light, today is not your day.
It is the winter solstice.
The shortest day of the year. Following the longest night.
No other day will have less light.
It’s the first tick of astronomical winter’s clock. But in the Chicago area, the only thing that says “winter” is the date on the calendar.
It’s been a month full of talk about El Niño, a warming trend. Spring shrubs, deluded by cold nights and daytime temperatures fluctuating into the upper 60s, push out flowers. Lilacs hint purple. Forsythia opens its blooms.
Listen! Look up! The sandhill cranes migrate over us by the thousands, belatedly waking up to the realization they’ve been lulled into lollygagging up north. They dallied a little too long in Wisconsin.
The bison wonder why they bothered with their shaggy overcoats.
The warm temperatures this month belie the lack of light that drains inexorably away; minute by minute, hour by hour. In the morning, we drive to work in darkness; arrive home for dinner under cover of night. But we dimly remember the sunrises…
…and the sunsets….
… the light we took for granted, that turned the savanna edges and prairie misty and luminescent.
We long for the light.
As I’ve felt the darkness brush against me, surround me, and submerge me this month, I’ve thought about what’s coming. Christmas. A day dedicated to light.
This year, Christmas morning will dawn with a “Full Cold Moon” or “Long Nights Moon” as Native Americans once called it. It’s the first full moon on Christmas since 1977 — more than 35 years ago. We’ll wake up to it when it rises at about 6 a.m.
On this darkest day, after a string of dark weeks, in a world that so desperately needs it…
Send the light.
All photos by Cindy Crosby (top to bottom): storm over author’s prairie patch, Glen Ellyn, IL; full moon with Venus rising over author’s prairie, GE; partial moon over author’s prairie, GE; forsythia flowering December 18, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; sandhill cranes over Springbrook Prairie, Naperville, IL; bison herd at Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL; sunrise, Hidden Lake Forest Preserve of DuPage County, Glen Ellyn, IL; sunset, HL, GE; prairie edge, NG; December morning sundog, Chicago, IL; full moon, GE, IL.