Shortest day. Longest night. Welcome.
Sunrise and sunset aren’t visible from my kitchen window as I make breakfast. The sun is already up; it won’t set for a few more hours. But the effect on the meadow of the earth’s deepest point in its tilt to the sun and its position at the closest point in its orbit around the sun can be seen from there.
Most of the herbaceous plants are on bended knee to the native grasses turning the meadow red. Cue the Hallelujah chorus (even if it should be an Easter oratorio). At noon I will confirm the most elongated noon-time shadows of the year, and the sun will be at its lowest height above the horizon.
From here until the summer solstice no matter how cold, windy, snowy or gray it gets, the days will lengthen. As the milkweeds, goldenrods, Joe Pye weeds, iron weeds and other herbaceous plants decay, they take with them the grey brown of their dying stems and beige of their seed heads. A new color palette of reds of the meadow grasses and the plumage of the Cardinals will dominate. It’s a quiet relief from the riot of emerald green of spring and the blinding yellow of the fall — a seasonal respite from the chaos of the growing season and a chance to rest peacefully.