I hope that whenever you are you get to enjoy some amazing sunny autumn afternoons.
Summer is over and it is officially autumn! Today is the autumn equinox when day and night are roughly equal in length. To celebrate here is a baby Nigerian dwarf goat sent to me via my friend Kyla all snuggly and ready for colder temps.
Today is the longest day of the entire year, if you live in the northern hemisphere. Because the planet Earth (the one we live on) rotates around the sun on a tilted axis, certain parts of the planet get more or less sun depending on the time of year. Basically, billions of years ago, when our solar system was being formed, tons of bits of mass collided together to form mini planets, which then collided together to form proto-planets, which eventually became most of what our planet is now. Then, another pro-planet collided with the prelude to Earth and put us on our lovely little tilt which is reasonable for the seasons. Amazing! And the seasons are a big part of why life was able to flourish on our planet. Incredible how things tend to all fall into place like that!
The steady march towards winter can feel…a bit dark. Today marks the official first day of winter with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Where I am writing, there will be less than eight hours of sunshine today. Many cultures choose to celebrate the shortest day of the year, perhaps because starting tomorrow the days will gradually get longer and longer as the Earth’s axis rotates towards, instead of away from, the sun. In ancient times, this time of year was celebrated for the Egyptian god Osiris, Apollo and Sol Invictus, all deities with links to the sun. The Yule Log may be a delicious chocolate cake now, but thousands of years ago it was a part of the Juul festival of northern Europe and Scandinavia, where families would cut down a large tree and light it on fire for twelve days to bring good harvest and fertility for the new year in part of worship to the god Odin. In fact, some retellings of Norse mythology even have Odin delivering gifts and sweets to children during this time, centuries before Santa Claus and his reindeer. At any rate, if you are anything like me, and perhaps goats, you long for the sunshine. In that case, today is a day of hope as every day for the next six months, there will be a smidgen more sunshine to enjoy.
Today, in the United States, is Thanksgiving. There is a lot of problematic mythology surrounding Thanksgiving in the United States. It did not originate as a peaceful gathering between American Indians sharing their bounty with English settlers, although that is the story most American school-children get growing up and is still purported by most sources. However, feasting in society serves an important purpose amalgamating social ties, familial ties, religious observances, and economic relationships. Sharing a large meal amongst a group of individuals can re-affirm social and familial ties as well as redistribute and share resources. Thanksgiving menus are special and many dishes are usually only served once or twice a year. Many Americans see Thanksgiving as the official start of the festive season leading up to Christmas and the New Year. Some (not all) may use the Thanksgiving feast as a means to fuel-up for another problematic American tradition – the violent Black Friday shopping spree. Whether you buy into the white-washed American mythology of Thanksgiving or not, gratitude is really important, and if you are reading this you at least have something to be grateful for. I’m grateful for my family, my warm flat, and the opportunity to share a goat with y’all everyday. Have a wonderful holiday y’all.
One of the loveliest things about autumn is the transformation of leaves from green to beautiful yellows, oranges and reds, eventually falling to the each dried and crunchy. Although the colder and shorter days may be less pleasant than the warm and sunny spring and summer, find some joy in the last moments before winter and have a go at crunching on some leaves. Trust me, it’s quite fun.