“The year achieves another solstice as the great wheel of time turns with the earth and the seasons. Winter, by the calendar, begins tomorrow, though the year’s shortest days have been upon us for almost a week. The solstice is a marker on the charts, but winter abides by its own schedule of wind and weather.
Since man was first aware of the changing seasons, the winter solstice has been occasion for awe and wonder and a challenge to faith. Hope and belief are easy in a warm, green world, but when the cold days come and the sun edges farther and farther south, cutting a constantly smaller arc across the sky, the imminence of utter darkness and oblivion seems at hand. Then the sun stands still. The turn comes. The crisis passes and the sun slowly climbs the sky once more, reaching toward another spring, another summer.
It was, and it still is, an annual miracle. Hope and belief were, and still are, once more justified. There is order in the universe. The seasons still march in their eternal sequence, and winter is neither pause nor punishment, but a part of the year’s whole. Ice and stormy wind are inevitabilities, but they pass even as the leaf and the blossom, equally inevitable in their own season, ripen and are gone.
The year has its own fourtold truth, indelibly marked on the turning earth. Now we know it whole for another turn of the great wheel. The cold verity of winter completes the cycle.”
–Hal Borland, Twelve Moons of the Year