"Winter arrived right on schedule yesterday and not a moment too soon," said WW&W Fall correspondent Autumn Equinox, after handing the reins, and reign, of the changing seasons to incoming WW&W correspondent Winter Solstice at the gala media celebration and bonfire in her honor at the Copper Island Beach Club on the frozen-over Hancock Waterfront.
Metaphorically burdened as it was, the celestial switch went off without a hitch and even the most focused, sober observers were astonished.
"I had my eye on it the whole time, but I did not see the actual hand-off," admitted a flabbergasted Mary Kaminski, bartender, icemeister and Solstice fan hosting the annual astronomical sleight-of-hand performance, "that's how smooth it was."
"They're better than good," agreed Tom Rozich, CIBC bartender and iceologist with the trained eye of a fisheries biologist. "We all saw it coming, but nobody actually saw it happen; they say the hand is quicker than the eye, but they're both so stunning, who sees their hands?"
Under the cover of darkness, Winter appeared outa nowhere in the blink of an eye, imperceptibly shifting the shortest day and longest night of the year into reverse so the days immediately started growing longer and the nights shorter. If you're like me, you never felt a thing.
It was the most seamless segue and sweetest matched dissolve between seasons I'd ever seen. According to semi-precise astronomical data tracking, Winter arrived at 05:30 yesterday. Hanukkah has been upon us since sundown on Tuesday, and Christmas is scheduled to arrive Sunday, Lord willing and the crick don't rise. Collectively, enough to put anybody in a celebratory mood.
"When you consider that we get more snow in the Keweenaw before the first day of winter then most places get all winter, it's not that big a trick," she added, modestly deflecting the adoration.
According to my go-to research reference Wikipedia, the Solstice occurs precisely when the axial balance of the earth's polar hemisphere is farthest away from the sun.
"It's the reversal of the sun's ebbing presense in the sky," Winter explained, "which explains why ancient Norse paganists, Germanic neopagans, Christianic, Wiccan and Druidic cultures have all celebrated it as one of eight solar holidays, a time of rebirth."
Correspondingly, Hanukkah, the simultaneous eight-day Jewish holiday, is decidedly toned down and modestly observed by the burning of candles and inhaling of calories.
"Even with eight candles, they can't hold a candle to the way we party hearty," Solstice said, referencing the menorah and the eight days of Hanukkah. "While they play spin the dreidel, we play spin the bottle."
"They eat latkes (potato pancakes), pontshkes (jam-filled donuts), and sufganiyot, donuts deep-fried in virgin olive oil and filled with strawberry jelly, chocolate, vanilla and caramel cream."
"We're a bit more bacchanalian and carnivorous than that," she added preferentially, "we roast Vollwerth's natural casing hot dogs and brats on a bonfire God can see from Heaven, drink snowbank beer, dance, sing and make merry; the closest we get to religiosity is passing the Christian Brothers around the fire."
"Who can't have family values?" Winter asked rhetorically, freshening her lip gloss after kissing WW&W music correspondents Willie Nelsonen and Jon Bon Joki and thanking them for headlining the event, "we're into production values, right boys?"
"The best celebrations happen when you let 'er rip with no religious restrictions to cast a pall on the frolic and festivities," Winter extolled the virtues of vice. "If you don't know the difference between celibate and celebrate, your culture could use a makeover."
Back in the day, mosta the beer, wine and mead made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking just in the nicka time for the Solstice. Reindeer and cattle were butchered so they didn't have to feed them over the winter, and were served at the last feast celebration before deep winter began, all of which sounds deliciously decadent, pagan and pragmatic to me.
From all the WW&W correspondents, best fishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org.Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at jjunttila@ chartermi.net.