In the northern hemisphere, the last meteor shower of the year is the Ursid meteor shower, which peaks every year right around the winter solstice. The Ursids are named after the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper), where the meteors appear to originate. This year, the winter solstice on December 21st nearly coincides with the new moon December 23rd, offering optimal viewing conditions if the weather is clear. The best time to watch, according to EarthSky, is before dawn on the 22nd or 23rd.
Astronomically, winter starts for the northern hemisphere on the solstice, on December 21st this year, when the hemisphere reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun. But, meteorologically, winter starts for the northern hemisphere on December 1st.
Where I am in mid-coast Maine, we haven’t gotten any sticking snow yet. (About 30 minutes farther up the coast, there’s about an inch.) Meanwhile, Anchorage got 40 to 50 inches in the first half of December.
Although I’ve never been much of a winter sports person, I’ve been wanting to try snowshoeing since I was in Wyoming in 2018, at another residency. I’m hoping to finally make snowshoeing happen this year, and luckily Maine has plenty of trails.
Related: here’s a primer (or reminder) on how to dress for warmth on the trail.
With the sun setting at about 4pm, I’ve been writing less and spending a lot more time reading with a cup of peppermint tea and a pencil. I just started re-reading an older favorite, The Kraken. (Miéville is one of the best at constructing weird, complex worlds.)
And finally, I’ve been thinking about this poem by William Carlos Williams:
By William Carlos Williams
All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.
Thanks for reading! Stay warm—
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