Sunday, April 14, 2024

NOTES FROM THE FALLEN TREE: Happy Winter Solstice!

Moonlight paddle at White Lake on June 3. Photo by J. Correa-Kruegel.

This week, on December 21, in the Northern Hemisphere, we celebrate the shortest day of the year and mark the first day of winter. Here in northern New Jersey, sunrise is at 7:16 a.m. and sunset is at 4:35 p.m. The term solstice is Latin for “sol”= sun and “sister”= to stand still. 

The winter solstice is determined by the angle of the Earth’s axis in relation to the Sun. According to the almanac.com, “A solstice is when the Sun reaches the most southerly or northerly point in the sky, while an equinox is when the Sun passes over Earth’s equator.”

While many people endure a seasonal depression from the lack of sunlight this time of year, it can help to remember that we all need rest for a period of time. Nature is not “dead” this time of year but instead “resting” for the energy it needs in the spring. Cultures around the world actually view the solstice as a “rebirth” of the Sun and therefore the event is something to be celebrated. 

Although our human lives do not always allow for us to pause for very long, I would encourage anyone to get outside as much as possible this time of year and look at the landscape from a different perspective. 

I decided to show some of my favorite sunrise and sunset pictures (and a rainbow for good measure). I am thankful to have had an opportunity to have seen so many. 

I have said this before in years of discourse that from this day forward, there will be more light in our lives. Every year I hope that is true in every sense of those words. 

August at White Lake. Photo by J. Correa-Kruegel.

Jennifer Correa-Kruegel, Warren County Naturalist
Jennifer Correa-Kruegel, Warren County Naturalist

Jennifer has a Masters in Parks and Resource Management from Slippery Rock University. She worked as a Park Naturalist for Hunterdon County Park System from 2003-2006 and then at the NJSOC full-time from 2006 - 2020, starting as the Program Coordinator and evolving to an Environmental Educator. Jen is a New Jersey native and has lived in Warren County with her family since 2004. She is excited to be offering programs to this community she has grown to love.