ESCANABA - Every year I am convinced that winter will be mild and we will not see snow until January. I forget that the sun refuses to come up before 8 a.m. and stay up after 5:15 p.m. Reality hits and the snow falls. Turn around starts in a week.
The winter solstice will take place at 6:38 p.m. Dec. 21, 2010. Considered the start of winter, the solstice signals the return of the sun.
Over the millennia the return of the sun has been a big deal. My favorite monument to the return of the sun is Newgrange, Ireland. Just a little north of Dublin and along the Boyne River Newgrange is a 5000 year old testament to the human yearning for the return of the sun.
Farmers built a burial cairn in the form of a circular mound 340 feet across and 36 feet high. One 60 foot passage enters the cairn on its south side. The passage ends in chamber with three recesses. A shaft about 7 inches wide is located above the passageway and directs the sun's rays at the winter solstice into the interior and lights up the burial chamber.
The Irish enter a lottery to be one of the handful of people who will be present in the cairn when the sun lights it up on the solstice.
Today we celebrate light in our festivals and holy days. Both Hanukkah and Christmas feature lights and Saint Lucia's feast is celebrated on Dec. 13.
Although the sun will turn around it takes a few weeks before we feel the difference. In the meantime we have lots we can do in Delta County while waiting for warmer weather.
Some people have a passion for ice fishing. Many years ago I discovered I wasn't very good at ice fishing. We didn't eat much fresh fish. I had to look for other pastimes.
Many of my friends enjoy cross country skiing so much they look forward to the first snowfall and mourn the snow melt in the spring.
The Escanaba City Library is a jewel. There is no better place to read magazines, newspapers or work on a laptop. The library provides WiFi and you don't need to buy a drink.
The library sponsors a book club and monthly poetry reading. From time to time it features movies and lectures as well.
The William Bonifas Fine Arts Center is located just a couple of blocks from the library. Its present exhibition, Northern Exposures, runs through Dec. 16, 2010. Admission to the gallery is always free. The Bonifas offers a wide range of classes like art, cooking and yoga.
The Bonifas stage provides a venue for our own community theater. Players de Noc is in its 46th season and just finished "Mending Fences."
Each time I attend a Players' performance, including "Mending Fences," I walk away wondering why I ever miss a performance. Beginning February 25, 2011 Players will present "The Drowsy Chaperone," a musical. It will run two weekends.
Bay de Noc Community College's Besse Center possesses a permanent art collection as well as holding temporary exhibitions. The Besse s presently exhibiting the Addison collection.
The Bay College Film series is held throughout the year in the Besse Theater. Films have not been announced for 2011 but the first two films are scheduled for Feb. 3 and 17.
Did you know that if you are 60 years or older you can take courses at Bay College without paying tuition? You only pay fees.
To keep joints supple and mind centered, take tai chi. Tai chi looks like martial arts in slow motion. Check out Community Tai Chi located at the Penstar Building. You'll not be Jackie Chan but you will feel better.
One can curse winter, and I do, or one can get active, and I should. As I write this I see the neighborhood kids out in the snow throwing it and jumping in it. Time to stop sitting and start playing.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Richard Clark, Escanaba, practices personal injury law throughout the Upper Peninsula. He can be reached at uppermichiganlaw.com/richard-clark.html