Posts Tagged ‘winter solstice’

King Holly, King Oak

December 21, 2018

It’s a maple, not an oak, but it will have to do for now.

“You were just starting to get into your groove,” the dog-walker said apologetically as I yielded the trail, interrupting the run I had just begun.

More of a rut than a groove, I thought. I run this trail pretty much every Monday and Wednesday, and then lift weights afterward. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, I ride. On Fridays, I brood. Especially when the Friday in question happens to be the shortest day of the year, followed by the longest night.

If I ever actually found a groove and was getting into it, I mused, it would probably be something like the groove on an old vinyl LP, spiraling in at 33 1/3 rpm toward the black hole in the center. Stairway to heaven? More like highway to Hell.

Now ruts I know. I had been in an actual rut the day before I encountered the dog-walker, climbing Trail 341 counterclockwise on my second-best Steelman.

Anyone who saw me lurching upward in the 36×28 might have thought me a lost, loopy roadie, Trail 341 being a narrow, serpentine climb, sometimes featuring actual serpents; rocky where it isn’t loose, fenced with cane cholla, with a couple-three blind corners, no passing lanes, and the occasional rut just to keep things interesting.

But I was in the best mental health I could summon in December, especially this December, and as I said, it was my second-best Steelman. Plus I was climbing, not descending, which lets me ease into trouble rather than diving in headlong.

I had been descending Trail 341 when one of these ruts caught me unawares back in July 2017. I was aboard the Voodoo Nakisi, which with its plump Bruce Gordon Rock n’ Roads is ordinarily more than a match for this short, not particularly technical descent.

But my mind had wandered, as it will, and it didn’t wander back until after I had bitten the dust, grabbing a handful of cholla as I went down.

“What the hell are you doing?” my mind asked.

“Oh, shut up,” I replied, yanking spines from my left hand. “This is your fault.”

“What, I told you to yardsale in a rut?” my mind chortled. “I was just trying to get a little work done while you were dicking around. Jeez, I can’t leave you alone for a minute.”

Ever since taking that little digger I’ve ridden Trail 341 as a climb instead of a descent, though the neighborhood Singletrack Sanitation Service has ironed out a few of its nastier wrinkles. It leaves me in something of a metaphorical rut, true, but it’s a problem I don’t need to solve; a nettle I don’t care to grasp.

Especially in December, when there’s never enough sun to really warm your bones, and what there is of it hangs low in the sky, either blinding you to the path or cloaking it in shadows.

My rides and temper shorten with the days. I get up in the dark and by the time I‘ve gotten a handle on current events — what has the Arsehole-in-Chief managed to shit on today? — it’s dark again and time to go back to bed. This makes for unsettling dreams.

Dreams. The ancient Celts saw the solstices as battles between twin kings, Oak vs. Holly, warmth and light pitted against cold and dark.

Neither king is ever truly vanquished. The Holly King is ascendant as the old year wanes, but as the new year approaches the Oak King reclaims the throne.

It was a murky morning as this year’s winter solstice came to Newgrange, and the Oak King did not make an appearance. But this doesn’t mean that the Holly King has finally triumphed. The struggle continues.

And I recall another Irish legend, who once said: “We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.”

Don’t curse the darkness. Light a candle. Grasp the nettle.

• Editor’s note: I had planned to make this an episode of Radio Free Dogpatch, but various ruts kept tripping me up. At least you can give a listen to the music I had in mind for the background — “King Holly, King Oak,” from Johnny Cunningham via “Celtic Christmas,” a Windham Hill sampler I’d forgotten I owned. And happy solstice to you.

Singing up the sun

December 21, 2017

It’s not moonrise, and those are not pikes. But still.

Betimes I fear the Ó Grádaighs intercoursed the penguin when they fled County Clare for Americay.

Were we still on the auld sod we’d be kings, or druids, lighting bonfires, rubbing up against the mistletoe and singing up the dawn on solstice instead of watching helplessly as brigands, highwaymen and landlords make off with every salable item in the Republic.

Well, maybe not. We’d probably be on the dole, trading our excess offspring for drink and stealing the neighbors’ pigs.

Still, damme if I feel like singing up the dawn on this side of the pond this morning. ‘Tis only the rising of the moon will have me tuning up so.

He is risen

December 21, 2016
Bring me the Chrome-Plated Megaphone of Destiny. And a fresh diaper.

Bring me the Chrome-Plated Megaphone of Destiny. And a fresh diaper.

Happy birthday, Frank Zappa.

And a happy solstice to everyone else. The days get longer from here. Especially the ones following Inauguration Day.

Thus, “Whippin’ Post.”

Here comes the sun

December 21, 2015
Woo hoo, break out the sunscreen!

Woo hoo, break out the sunscreen!

Happy winter solstice to thee and thine. Once again I will not be attending the annual illumination of the inner chamber at Newgrange — the 5,000-year-old monument is not among the locations served by Air Subaru — but I will be there in spirit.

The weather wizards say we can expect a high in the upper 40s today here in the Duke City, but it won’t be long now before this space is devoted to bitching about the intolerable heat. To everything there is a season.

Happy solstice

December 21, 2013

solstice-claus-12212013

Happy solstice

December 21, 2012

Psychotic interludes from the NRA aside (can you imagine how much fun “Saturday Night Live” is gonna have with Wayne LaPendejo’s dreams of transforming every grade-schooler into a grenadier?), it was a pleasant solstice here in Bibleburg.

Herself’s mom is in town for the holidays, staying at The House Back East, and while they visited a local spa for expensive and superfluous purposes of beautification I took a break from chores to squeeze in a short ride.

I’m been running more lately, so a bit of load-bearing exercise made for a nice change of pace. It was chilly, so long sleeves and leg warmers were the uniform of the day. And fenders were a must, as there is some water on the deck; also caution, thanks to a bit of ice in shady spots.

The weaponry I left at home, even though my route took me past two schools, which thanks to LaPendejo have been exposed as exemplars of the Pussification of America and thus low-hanging fruit for the zombie slaves of Hollywood who would perforate us all in a nanosecond were it not for the eternal vigilance of the NRA (bonus Internet joke: Q. How many NRA members does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A. More guns).

But I kept the rubber side down, and nobody drew down on me, so it was all good.

Now I’m enjoying a glass of wine, getting set to feed the Pigeons (har har) and thinking about how early I have to get up the next two days. Just shoot me.

Happy solstice

December 21, 2010

Oboy, oboy, the days are gonna start getting longer … although some of them lately have seemed almost interminable.

Jon Kyl gets off to a bad START

"New START has overcome my filibuster, you say? Blast it! Have Michele Bachmann bring me a turkey taco at once, and send Lindsey Graham in here to kiss my ass."

Roofwork. Insulation. Tree removal and transplantation. The rewiring of the house in order to keep hair dryers from punking computers, DSL modems and productivity. A woeful lack of exercise as a certain fat bastard makes himself available for oversight. Oh, the humanity.

Happily, all projects save repairs to our gutters should be complete by this time tomorrow afternoon, and peace will reign in Chez Dog once again — until Friday, when we commence a massive cookery project to feed family during a delayed solstice celebration on Saturday (some folks call this “Christmas”).

It has been my practice to whip up some weirdo feast — a massive New Mexican meal, chicken cacciatore, just about anything other than turkey with all the trimmings. But this year, it’s the bird, goddamnit, ’scuse me, with mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, giblet gravy, stuffing, a green salad, raspberry cobbler, the works. The only semi-oddball on the menu is a side dish, stir-fried succotash with edamame, from “Recipes for Health” by Martha Rose Shulman.

Anyway, the dinner is secondary. I want the leftovers. Turkey sandwiches, turkey hash, turkey soup, turkey enchiladas — yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Yum, yum, gimme some.

Come Near Year’s, I should weigh slightly more than Jon Kyle’s bruised and swollen ego and slightly less than Lindsey Graham’s ass-kissing lips.