Week of January 29, 2023 – February 4, 2023
by Elizabeth Suzedell, Environmental Educator
Winter can feel bleak. With frigid temperatures, everything covered in snow and ice, short days, lifeless plants, and an apparent lack of animal activity, I am longing for the summer, when everything is so vibrantly green and the sun is bright all day. While I do feel down during this season sometimes, I can’t help but feel hopeful ever since the winter solstice, and I feel more and more hopeful by the day.
The winter solstice, which occurred over a month ago on December 21, 2022, is actually just a moment in time. Right at that instant, the earth’s northern hemisphere was tilted the furthest away from our sun. This gave us our shortest day of the year (here in Marcellus, it was about 9 hours of daylight). The summer solstice occurs 6 months later on June 21, 2023. On that day, the earth’s northern hemisphere will be tilted the closest towards the sun, giving us our longest day of the year (15.5 hours).
Typically, late January to early February is the coldest time of the year in Central New York, and the sun is still setting early. However, we’ve already gained about 50 minutes of daylight since the solstice. In one week, we will gain almost 20 minutes of daylight. One month from now, we will have close to an extra hour and a half.
While it doesn’t always feel like it, this season will fly by. Instead of just sitting and waiting for spring (less than 2 months away!), I’m making the most of winter and appreciating the present. With the extra morning and evening light, I am getting outside as much as I can to experience the calm and stillness, especially after a fresh snowfall. I’m finding the signs that life is still here, like through animal tracks, lots of birds at the feeders, and ducks on the lakes. I’m enjoying the walks and hikes with crisp air and no mosquitos, and seeing the beautiful ice crystals in many different places. I also realize that this is the one time of the year to try cold weather activities, like snowshoeing, ice skating, or skiing.
How are you making the most of this season?