Black Sun, Dark Moon

butte_mist_cloud
Mist Rising with Cloud

The dog doesn’t wait for the sun to rise, though the birds still keep their roost until daylight. Mercy, the sly-eyed pirate, is awake and singing for breakfast in the darkness. These hours of daylight are short before the winter solstice, further shortened by the pall of bitter mist. Night brings a shroud of ice, freezing fog until, and unless, the sun breaks through at noon, weak at its low southern meridian. Tree trunks are flocked with frost. Maybe the vapor will lift, maybe not.

The winter solstice marks the moment the sun halts its southward march and hangs, hugging the horizon. The word solstice, a noun, derives from the Latin and means simply Old Sol stands, and there he hangs. Located, as we

sunset_december
Sunset, December 13

are, halfway between the equator and North Pole at the 44th parallel, the southern decline is sharp.

If I see the moon, it is low in the west and bitten, growing shadowy like the sun ranging south. The fog encases the hollows between hills, and the hills themselves. In the northern hemisphere, darkness deepens, while creatures burrow into the earth for warmth and we shelter under down and fleece. The new moon comes before the solstice like a bell. For now, waiting in faith the wheel turns again, to ascend again, lift like cloud and mist off the hill top.

 

Author: Kim K. McCrea

Kim K. McCrea worked for over 25 years as a Systems Analyst building out the internet of things before returning to letters. In 2017, Kim won the Treefort Wild West Prize for Creative Nonfiction and was named a finalist in both Proximity Magazine's Essay Prize competition and the Barry Lopez Creative Nonfiction Contest. Recently, her work was selected as runner up for Cutbank Literary Magazine's Big Sky, Short Prose contest. Kim lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she wrangles her Labrador in the rain and scouts for Great Blue Herons.

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