Winter Solstice

IMG_1803        Winter Solstice full moon over Ohope Beach

June 21st, 2016

It’s June 21st and the day should be going on and on, instead at 5:10 pm, the day is nearly gone. Too soon, the sun will set on the shortest day of the year. The seasons are upside down and Mr. Bill and I find ourselves, turned ’round and round’. June is the new December!

The winter solstice occurred this morning at 10:34 in the Southern Hemisphere, making it the shortest day of the year in New Zealand. The North Island received 9 hours, 37 minutes and 58 seconds of sunlight, while the South Island had to make do with an hour less of sunshine. No one is complaining though, our southern neighbors below the Antartica Circle, did not see the sun at all.

If  the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere heralds the start of summer,we assumed that the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere would mean the start of winter. Wrong! The official start of winter is June 1st, not today. How many times, have my children delighted in repeating the school yard maxim, “to assume, is to make an ass out of u and me”? Hmmmm, it has taken a while but I finally have discovered why winter begins on June 1st. New Zealand, Australia and South Africia, have a meteorological winter, made up of the months with the most similar weather, not one determined by the sun’s distance from earth. Therefore, winter here starts on June 1st and ends on August 31st. Very tidy!

Whether or not you mark the season by the solstice or the calendar, you can tell that the season has changed. Children have donned their puffer jackets but still walk to school barefoot. The ski fields are open on the South Island.  The song, Winter Wonderland, is playing as background music on the TV commercials for mid winter sales. Half Christmas parties are planned for this coming Saturday, June 25th. Recipes in the newspaper’s Food Section, are for hearty soups and stew. Drapes are drawn at dusk to keep the lounge (living room) warm. However, the strangest announcement that winter has arrived, is that in the morning, the windows ‘rain’. Homes are not heated and windows are not double glazed. The first morning I opened the drapes and condensation rained down the windows, I knew that winter had arrived.



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