Posts Tagged ‘winter solstice’

Light duty

December 21, 2022

Oi, Tōnatiuh! Up and at ’em!

I’ve been awake since 3:30. Four hours later Tōnatiuh still hasn’t shown his face above the Sandias.

Yet I am in a remarkably good mood. Why?

Because … more light soon come, Bubba; more light soon come.

The December solstice arrives at 2:48 p.m. Duck! City time, the Sun God’s advance scout galloping over the hill, herald of longer days and shorter nights.

Just think: If the Earth weren’t as crooked as some of the people who walk its surface, we would be denied this annual morsel of good news. Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun; it shines everywhere.

Why the long shadow?

December 21, 2021

Gandalf the Grey? Nah. Gradaigh the Groady.

No, it’s not some dark twist on the old “a horse walks into a bar” joke.

It’s solstice! Short day, low sun, long shadows. Huzzah, etc.

Don’t forget your cap, squire.

I start carrying a cycling cap on rides this time of year. Generally I get a late start, because it’s not exactly toasty out there in the mornings, even in the Upper Chihuahuan Desert. And if I’m headed home into that low sun come midafternoon, I want some sort of eyeshade so I can see who’s trying to kill me.

Likewise on hikes I favor a broad-brimmed hat, either a Carhartt crushable boonie or a Broner fedora if I’m feeling stylish.

For runs I go back to the cycling cap — not the Rivendell, but a beat-up Campagnolo model that is so old I can’t recall where or how I acquired it, since I’ve never been a Campy man. I usually fetch a light Sugoi watch cap along too, and wear one while tucking the other into my waistband. Got to keep the brain-box warm since I don’t drink the antifreeze no mo’.

Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo. …

Just remember to keep moving, like the Earth around the sun, and the Milky Way around the amazing and expanding universe. Don’t crouch indoors like a gargoyle, puzzling out that goddamn WordPress block editor or how long it’s been since your last shot and whether you dare have your great-aunt Fannie over for tea and biscuits. Get out there and chase yourself around.

I know, it’s dark out there. It’s dark when you get up, dark when you go to bed, and in between it’s just dark.

But keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart. While you’re at it, you might pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space, ’cause there’s bugger-all down here on Earth. And keep one hand on your liver.

Good night, moon.

Happy solstice

December 21, 2019

The Sandias, as captured by my “new” iPhone SE.

O sweet irony, that the first day of winter should be the warmest we’ve had all week.

Your Humble Narrator has been doing more running than riding lately, so once the temperature inched past 45 I scooted out the door with a Steelman Eurocross and logged a refreshing 90 minutes on mixed terrain.

I didn’t want to ride a bunch of road, because all the drivers are drunk and texting relatives about what size orthopedic socks to buy Uncle Junior for Christmas and will they fit under his ankle monitor. And I didn’t want to ride a bunch of trails because all the cyclists are using them to hide from the drunk, texting drivers. Thus, “mixed terrain.” Keep the fuckers guessing.

I took my “new” iPhone SE with me, but didn’t think to take any snaps until I got home. The transition from iPhone 5 to iPhone SE was surprisingly simple — swap SIM cards, charge and boot the SE, load it with an iTunes backup of the 5, zip and zip and zip. Mere minutes only. And everything seems to be working. Even the old Tech 21 case fits like a glove.

It goes without saying that my first two calls on the “new” phone came from bots. But I’m saying it anyway.

And I’m also saying, “A happy solstice to thee and thine.” Grianstad Sona Daoibh!

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


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.