October 14, Winter’s Day

In the old European calendar, today, October 14, is “Winter’s Day.” Sometimes called “Winter’s Night,” (which to me has a more appropriately atmospheric ring to it) this is the day that marked the coming of winter in the north. Long distance sailing and other summer activities suspended after this day, so that time and effort could be devoted to preparing for winter. I’ve not read this, but I suspect “long distance sailing” might have referred to Viking, that culture’s verb for sailing out and raiding other cultures. As in, “It’s Winter’s Day, time to give up viking for the year and get the roof repaired.”

Declaring winter so soon is a bit shocking, even to those of us who observe an earlier date for the beginning of autumn than is currently accepted, but this year, it seems entirely appropriate. We’ve got a “sunny gale” in progress, with sustained 45 knot winds, nine foot seas, and bright sunshine, which this time of year offers little warmth, particularly when paired with high winds. It’s a good day to hunker down and plan for the season ahead.

Unfortunately, today Aly takes the PSAT tests at Haines High School. As a homeschooler, this score is vitally important to her college plans, and we can’t miss it for anything. So, out we’ll go, before dawn, in the teeth of the gale, to get her in to the test. It’s days like this when we really are roughing it!

We don’t mark this day as the beginning of winter, and heaven knows we wouldn’t have survived here this long if we didn’t have the coming winter firmly in mind long before today. Still, it’s nice to have a moment in common with our ancient forebearers, and mark the changing seasons in their memory.

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