Winter Sosltice 2008

SUBHEAD: Celebrating the Longest Night.

By Linda Pascatore on 23 December 2008 for Island Breath -

The other night, on the 21st, we marked the Winter Solstice. We went to Puolo Point at Salt Pond Beach for sunset. The day was about as wintry as Hawaii gets: it was windy, cloudy, and cool enough to wear long pants and a sweater.

Image above: view east from Puolo Point, Kauai. Photo by Juan Wilson.

We had some trouble getting out to the point. The road makai of the airport was blocked with quite an expanse of seasonal ponding created by the recent rainfall, and high surf had cut a temporary river inland, which blocked access to the beach. The landscape changes highlight the delicate balance of our life here on this island, which was created by a volcano and is now slowly crumbling into the ocean beneath our feet.

So, confronted by fairly deep water in our path, we put our old truck into four wheel drive and gunned it through the sand on a side road to the beach. The risk of getting stuck in the sand highlighted the Solstice theme of the trip; making it through the dark times and back to the light.

We made a fire, and settled down to watch the sunset. We were treated to a beautiful experience there. There was a couple perched on the exposed reef, silhouetted against the sunset. The woman was playing flute and dancing. The man accompanied her with his guitar. We could hear the music from where we sat, and we gratefully accepted this Solstice Blessing. The sun set behind a cloud bank which shrouded Niihau.

We enjoyed the heat of our fire, and the muted twilight colors. Then the stars began to appear in the night sky. Venus and Jupiter shone very brightly to the west. We were awed and inspired by the vastness of this universe we inhabit. We remembered and honored the Polynesian Navigators who followed the stars to find these islands. It was a great place to welcome the Winter Solstice.

Coming originally from Western New York (think Buffalo, but more rural and snowy), at first I didn’t think we really had seasons in Hawaii. However, I am now more attuned to the subtleties of the changing seasons here; changing surf and wind directions, rains, humidity, and cooler temperatures of winter. It is the season for celebrations and gift giving with family and friends across many cultures: Christian Christmas, Jewish Hanukah, African-American Kwanzaa, Hawaiian Makahiki. They are all probably based on Winter Solstice, a significant event in the solar cycle.

Solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and is the turning point of the year, the Return of the Light, a Turn of the Wheel. After this, the days will grow longer and we will have more sunlight and warmth. Many cultures also designate the New Year around this time, a season of dark moving into light, the death and rebirth of the year.

The turn of the year is a time for taking stock of ones life. The cool, dark, rainy days spent indoors lend themselves to introspection. We acknowledge our accomplishments, and set new goals and resolutions for the coming year.

My resolution is to learn to move in harmony with nature, becoming more kama'aina, or “of the land”, and living more sustainably here on this precious island. May you reflect in peace on the passing year, and move with hope to the coming one.

On the Longest Night
Stars shine bright with renewal
Guiding our journey

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