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The Whitehurst Diaries: Winter Solstice

'I am Christian in my spiritual walk, so my observance of the solstice is not a ritual occasion. Still, folklore and legends are fascinating and it is intriguing to see how the beliefs, customs, and celebrations of other times and older peoples have inter-twined with Christian traditions.' -SHARON WHITEHURST
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By Sharon Whitehurst
Written at Gradyville, KY, on December 21, 2011

My father always called attention to the shortest day of the year.

The word 'solstice' was not in his vocabulary, nor the term 'equinox.'Rather, he was a country man with an intense interest in weather and seasons.He quoted the Old Farmers' Almanac, he kept thermometers fastened to outside windowsills on all sides of his house, comparing the temperature during a winter cold spell to the nth of a degree.



He marked the autumnal flights of the wild geese, announced the 'first day of winter'--observed the return of the springtime and commented on the 'longest day' in mid-summer.

His interest in the natural world, the changes of the seasons, the foibles of birds and beasts set the pattern of observation and delight early in my own life.

My son was born about daylight on December 22, 1964. In Vermont that year we had been referring to the season as "winter" for many weeks.

I am Christian in my spiritual walk, so my observance of the solstice is not a ritual occasion. Still, folklore and legends are fascinating and it is intriguing to see how the beliefs, customs, and celebrations of other times and older peoples have inter-twined with Christian traditions.

At this time of year I so often reflect that a reliable source of artificial light--electricity--is astonishingly recent. Ages of earths' history have passed with only a feeble candle or torch or bonfire to create a small circle of light against the long dark of a winter's night.

Beyond that flickering yellow illumination anything might lurk; wild beast, friend, enemy, could not be reliably distinguished without entering the ring of light.Little wonder that the lengthening of days--and all that implies of warmth, and green growing things--was welcomed with joy. -SHARON WHITEHURST


This story was posted on 2011-12-22 06:18:33
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The Whitehurst Diaries: Winter Solstice



2011-12-22 - Old Gradyville RD, Gradyville, KY - Photo by Sharon Whitehurst.
For Sharon Whitehurst, memories of her grandfather's way of marking the coming of winter has followed her from Vermont to Gradyville. Along with the accompanying essay, she sends these beautiful photos of the almanac day for marking the first day of winter. The picture was taken Wednesday morning, December 21, at about 9amCT, looking north toward Payne Janes Hill.

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The Whitehurst Diaries: Payne Janes Hill, framed by barn



2011-12-22 - Old Gradyville Road, Gradyville, KY - Photo by Sharon Whitehurst.
Sharon Whitehurst sends this picture, taken Wednesday morning, from inside the barn at her home in the Big Creek Valley, on the first official day of winter, December 21, 2011 at about 9amCT, looking north toward Payne Janes Hill, a constant knob, as reassuring a sight to those around it as the dawning.

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The Whitehurst Diaries: Close up of Payne Janes Hill



2011-12-22 - Old Gradyville Road, Gradyville, KY - Photo by Sharon Whitehurst.
Sharon Whitehurst sends this picture, taken Wednesday morning, from inside the barn at her home in the Big Creek Valley, on the first official day of winter, December 21, 2011 at about 9amCT, looking north toward Payne Janes Hill, a constant knob, as reassuring a sight to those around it as the dawning.

Read More... | Comments? | Click here to share, print, or bookmark this photo.



 

























 
 
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