It is 4:38 p.m., Mountain Standard Time, the precise moment of the Winter Solstice here in the arid lands of Arizona. The skies are overcast and the temperature is 63 F, sinking from the day’s high of 65 at my house in central Phoenix. The wind is calm. A small amount of rain fell within the last 2 1/2 hours, enough anyway to dampen the sidewalks yet not enough to find its way into the rain gauge on the backyard fence.
The 2009 Solstice also occurred on the 21st but about six hours earlier, at 10:47 a.m. Weather conditions then were pretty much the same: Partly cloudy skies, 61 F, with a slight easterly breeze.
Unlike last year, we went through a warm first half of the month, a period in which official record heat occurred on the 13th and 14th, at 79 and 82 degrees. It also hit 80 on the 8th.
I’m disappointed the Winter Solstice is not cause for a huge celebration in the U.S. Although the Solstice stamps the start of what is a brutal winter in many places, it also marks the beginning of the light’s journey northward, back to us across the equator in March and high above us in June, a symbol of life’s long chain of rejuvenation. It is a time of hope.