Yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. I made sure to spend some time outside yesterday to mark this event, but the weather was bitterly cold and overcast, perhaps suitably bleak given the day. Much better was today, the day after the solstice, when temperatures got into the 40s (F) and the sky was sunny and clear. From here on out, the light will be slowly returning, and being outside on this sun-filled day felt like a great way to celebrate that fact!
This is the first place I've lived where I've noticed such a vast difference in the sun's height between summer and winter. (And now that I think about it, I suppose this is the farthest north I've lived.) On summer days, the sun reaches almost directly overhead. Now, the sun barely gets above the trees. I took this picture in our meadow at around 12:30 today, and that's maximum sun for this time of year:
The sun lit up these fuzzy Virgin's Bower seedheads at the edge of the meadow:
A Common Raven called for several minutes from the ridge above our house and made a pass over the meadow. Common Ravens aren't actually all that common around here, and I feel very lucky that a pair of these birds seems to be year-round residents at this nearby ridge:
I watched some Black-capped Chickadees foraging among old seedheads on our Tulip Tree:
While a couple of noisy White-breasted Nuthatches worked over one of our old apple trees. Those rusty feathers under this bird's tail are one of my favorite things about White-breasted Nuthatches:
What a handsome bird you are, little nuthatch:
I'm hoping for more of these wonderfully sunny days in the wintry months to come, with the sun a bit higher in the sky each day!