Longer Days Make Me Optimistic: Prediction for a Glorious New Year

| 1/1/2009 9:43:00 AM

Happy New Year!

Hard as it is for me to believe, the first day of 2009 is well underway. The winter solstice passed by, more than a week ago. This morning, I noticed that the sun peeked over the horizon just a hair north of where it rose the last time I watched it from my farm-henge vantage point. The season of life is coming, I just know it is. Longer days make me optimistic.

Osage County Kansas sunrise

I was born in North Dakota, where winter was long and hard. We knew how to have fun in that dark season ... we spent half an hour bundling up to brave the sub-zero temperatures and double-digit wind speeds. Skating, sledding and fort-building were all on our wintertime agenda. More often than not, in spite of our physical exertion, we turned to little blocks of ice within 15 minutes of exposure. We were warm by the time the un-bundling was completed ... and more often than not, started the process all over again. As much fun as wintertime brought, longer days made me optimistic.

As a kid, I didn't understand the cause of  seasonal day length differences, but I was well aware of the expanded dark period in winter. I was also aware of where I saw the sun peek over the horizon, although it wasn't until 4th grade science class that I was able to put it all together ... with a little help from a very patient teacher. Ever since that revelation, no matter where we lived, I found myself a sacred place in the landscape where I could hide out, reflect on nature and mark the sun's progress from south to north and back south again. My sighting stone was often a grain bin or silo; trees also came in handy. When I went to college in Chicago, I found water towers atop buildings to help. Here in Kansas, our pine grove makes a pretty nice solar tracking device.

With the turning of the sun, and the subsequent longer days to look forward to, optimism fills my soul. I know that our country is facing some very exciting and difficult times in this new year.  I know that folks will want to hunker down, pull back, and wrap themselves in the shroud of survival. Money will be tighter than usual, but don't let that get you down. Our ancestors didn't have half the material goods to feel compelled to consume that we have. They got their satisfaction from hard work and took joy in the small things. They grew gardens out of necessity. They raised chickens and milked a family cow ... out of necessity. They cut wood or dug coal to fire their stoves. They played games, worked on puzzles sketched, painted and wrote. The work of living was hard, but it was oh-so satisfying.

Hank Will_2
1/9/2009 10:30:21 AM

Hey Wanda -- What a treat to "hear" from you. Thanks for your kind words. I think there will be considerably more economic carnage, before it is all over. The run-away train is derailing as I type. And I definitely believe that there will be plenty of pain ... pain that I don't wish upon anyone. But, I also believe that our ancestors had it way worse ... and the experience made them stronger. Of course, the backlash might be exactly what landed us in this current predicament. I hope things are well over at Simple Living, Wanda. Folks, Wanda Urbanska is, among many things, an insightful author, effective activist and charming TV host ... she wrote the book on Simple Living, quite literally. Visit Wanda's Simple Living website (www.SimpleLivingTv.net/) for a fresh dose of inspiration.

Wanda Urbanska
1/9/2009 9:11:06 AM

Great blog, Hank! Though I'm convinced that the great majority of us -- even those on the path to simplifying our lives -- experience some fear of the economy going from bad to worse, there has been little comment in the media about the upside of the downturn. Not only can this crisis bring us together again as you mention, return us to victory gardens, and put an end to the habit of recreational shopping, but our carbon emissions have been lowered of late. We're driving less, manufacturing less, consuming less. Maybe a blessed silver lining will be reducing negative impact on the planet, which sorely needs help.

Hank Will_2
1/2/2009 11:14:04 AM

Hey Barb -- thanks for the kind words. We are also looking into wind power. The wind really blows at the farm. But you are right that the technology is still fairly expensive. I am convinced that we as a people have what it takes to get back on track. And I think we will like it. KC -- thanks for your kind words too. I really believe that reaching out and resisting the temptation to pull away will be key to our success as a nation in 2009.

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