December is known as the first of three winter months. The first day of December is the meteorological start to winter, even though it isn’t until December 21st that winter solstice arrives. Solstice occurs twice a year when the sun is furthest away from the celestial equator. This winter solstice produces the shortest day of the year and in converse, the longest night of the year. Generally, humans seem only to regard the short day part of an explanation, perhaps choosing to disregard the longest night part because they are already accustomed to work and chores in the darkness and having an innate need for sunlight, they bemoan the lack thereof.
Shortest days are recorded in Scandinavian countries where sunlight hours can be as few as two and a quarter. Traveling around the world, Moscow has but seven hours, Paris has eight and a quarter, Anchorage has five and a half hours of light and New York City has about nine hours. No wonder Native Americans called this full moon, Long Nights Moon. Today we might call it Hungry Bird Moon or Comfort Moon. Birds forage continually at the feeder as humans look for warm clothes, warm food and warm homes as bastions against winter.
Anytime a line can be cast in the water and it not hit ice is a good day for fishing, so says Mr. Greengate. He looks at bundling up like an Eskimo one of the prices Ohioans must pay for December angling. Bait shop talk is ongoing as to best days, the vote being for the 5th through the 7th. Again on the 14th and 15th. Good days are also circled on the calendar for the 3rd, 4th, 10th and 11th. A thermos of coffee and a hamper of substantial snacks is Mrs. Greengate’s contribution to this madness called angler’s enthusiasm.
She, on the other hand, is relishing in the knowledge that December environment reports agree with the condition of her yard and garden. Daily cold air and flurries lay to rest the weed, insect, grass and tree related chores of summer and autumn. Her duties are now entirely household. Baking is foremost on her mind. Her goal? Bake on the same days that Mr. Greengate goes fishing, thereby being able to save enough cookies and candy from immediate consumption to actually having enough for sharing with friends and neighbors.
Outside the Yard
Winter hikes are scheduled throughout Ohio in December.
Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve will host an Orienteering Hike for children grades 4-8 on Dec.5. It is an all-day event. Preregistration is required. Call 937-537-6173.
Also on Dec. 5 is a Section Hike from noon to 4 pm on the Shawnee Backpack Trail in Shawnee State Park, meet at the lodge lobby at noon. This is a rough hike so wear appropriate footwear. Bring snacks and water. For more info, call or go online to Shawnee State park activities.
First Day of Winter Hike will be Dec. 21 at Cowan Lake State Park from 1-3 pm. This is a guided hike, length to be determined by group and weather. Dress for weather.
December 31st will see many outdoor enthusiasts at Maumee Bay State Park for the New Year’s Eve Night Hike from 7-8 pm. Meet at the Trautman Nature Center for a naturalist-led hike on the boardwalk. All ages welcome. Call 419-836-9117 for more info.
Word of the Month
Airglow: a faint emission of light by a planetary atmosphere-for earth it causes the night sky to never be completely dark. There is generally a bluish color low in the sky. Another name for it is nightglow.
Quote of the Month
“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” Steve Martin, actor/comedian/musician