As the year winds down, take time to appreciate both darkness and light. In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes

As the year winds down, take time to appreciate both darkness and light.

The dark days of late December often bring a flurry of festive occasions. Social times and traditions may bring light and joy to our lives. In the midst of our busy days, it is also worth honoring the shortest day and the return of the light. Both darkness and light have meaning.

Appreciate the dark

The darkest day of the year, the winter solstice, arrives on Thursday, December 21 (at 8:28 am PST to be exact). Here at the far Northwest corner of the continental US, the time between sunrise and sunset on December 21 will be less than 8-1/2 hours. That means more than 15 hours of darkness.

At the solstice, we may want to pause to appreciate the darkness. This is the moment when the sun pauses too. It stops its apparent southward path and moves back toward the north. We could find a place outside away from the bright lights. We could take a moment to think about our connection to the sun and its eternal motion, and our relationship with the planet.

Here is a poem for the solstice by the poet Annie Finch:

Winter Solstice Chant

Vines, leaves, roots of darkness, growing,
now you are uncurled and cover our eyes
with the edge of winter sky
leaning over us in icy stars.
Vines, leaves, roots of darkness, growing,
come with your seasons, your fullness, your end.

In a New York Times article about the solstice, Ms. Finch said, “If you don’t experience the darkness fully then you are not going to appreciate the light.”

Enjoy the light

During these dark days, it is no wonder that many of us hang bright lights on evergreen trees and houses. We seek out other sources of light and cheer too. We may visit friends and relatives to raise a glass or take a drive to seek out light displays.

Here are some of our favorite lights.

November 24-January 1. WildLights. Woodland Park Zoo.Seattle’s wildest holiday lights festival returns with sparkling lights and faux snowball fights, Santa, his reindeer and family delights. Info here.

November 25-December 31. 23rd Annual Garden d’Lights. Bellevue Botanical Garden. Over half a million sparkling lights in whimsical shapes of plants, flowers, birds, animals and cascading waterfalls. Info here.

November 25-December 31. Point Defiance ZooLights. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Animal-themed light displays, camel rides, carousel, reindeer, Kids’ Zone animal encounters. Info at pdza.org.

December 1-28. The Lights of Christmas. Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center, Stanwood. Displays with a million lights, children’s activities, entertainment, food. Info at warmbeachlights.com.

December 2-January 1. Clam Lights. Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, Renton. Official lighting on December 2. Trees and shrubs decorated with thousands of lights along paved 1-mile trail loop daily. Info at rentonwa.gov.

We hope you enjoy both darkness and light in your holiday traditions.

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