When I posted last week about the depression that afflicts people around this time of year, some readers wondered if it was a cry for help on my part. Was I writing about the triple whammy of yearend, darkness, and holiday letdown because I am depressed by these things?
I'm a guy who loves cycling and dining al fresco and that day in June when the women on Michigan Avenue bring out their summer wear, so you’d think I’d be despondent now that winter is about to start. Don’t make any wagers on that assumption, however, because you could not be more wrong.
Continuing my unbroken record of strangeness, I am more likely to be depressed during the middle of the year than at its end. Like my Druid ancestors, I find reasons to celebrate and mourn the celestial cycle. And this is the week to celebrate Alban Arthan, the shortest day of the year.
The December solstice is a day of celebration for all Druids, not because winter is about to begin, but because the sun is at its southernmost average azimuth (NB: S&S) and the daylight will increase from here. The weather will still be crappy, but I’ll get to see more of it.
Chicago weather is ridiculously out of sync from our astronomical seasons, and almost never in a good way. Yeah, we get two 70-degree days every January, but it’s a head fake that’s followed by 100 days of penguin weather. Spring will arrive officially in March, but the thermometer won't get the memo until just after Memorial Day. Spring in Chicago is a myth, like the Easter Bunny and internet privacy protection.
When they say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, they mean we’ll still be wearing wool coats until June. And if you’re still wearing your winter coat, it’s winter, no matter what Tom Skilling tells you. “Spring” weather in Chicago is cloudy, rainy, windy and very, very cold. When the days are longer than the nights, I want to be outside, except I’ll be at risk of frostbite in Chicago until May.
Finally, summer arrives, but the June solstice is a day of mourning for me. The sun has reached its highest average azimuth (NB2: S&S.), so the daylight will do nothing but ebb away until December. Meanwhile, summer in Chicago is likely to begin with temperatures still in the 60s. (On June 22 of this year, for example, summer began with a high of 64 degrees in Chicago. Woo-hoo!!!) When astronomical summer begins, half the day>night days are gone, I’ve dined outdoors two times, and I’ve taken about half a bike ride.
The beginning of summer brings a sense of urgency to make patio dinner reservations and carpe all the diems. I start juggling my calendar to free up nights for dinners and days for bike rides, making and canceling plans as rain or wind intervenes in my neatly ordered world. By the start of August, half the summer is gone, the equinox is in sight, and the pressure builds. How much outdoor time can I cram into the next six weeks?
True fact: I sent Jill and the girls an email in August, warning them to expect crankiness and stress as I go through my summer-is-almost-over-the-sun-is-dying panic.
When the autumnal equinox arrives in September, it’s a minor day of mourning and a major relief. The nights will be longer than the days for the next three months, but the weather will continue to be summery for several weeks. I still have time for some bike rides and, even better, I can dine outside at sunset in October AND enjoy the early-bird special at the same meal. Twofer.
Finally, the days get shorter and the sky gets cloudier and the weather gets even rottener and I enter an acceptance phase. Just wait it out a bit longer, a few more weeks, and then a few more, and, at last, it’s Alban Arthan all over again.
The seasons turn. The sun begins its journey home. Let's party like it's 99.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.