The grumpy man has spoken

Two of my least favorite things happen Tuesday, the winter solstice and the start of winter. They are of course, really the same thing. The winter solstice happens because of the fact that the earth is tilted on its axis and the amount of daylight varies at any given location as the earth moves around the sun. On Tuesday, we will have the shortest amount of daylight of any day of the year. Sunrise will be at 7:43 a.m. and sunset at 5:06 p.m. Since we do not live on a flat plain, this of course will vary a little bit based on where you live.

The Native Americans who lived here 1,000 years ago kept track of such things. Sacra Via, the park between Third and Front streets actually lines up with the sun as it sets on that day. The staff of The Castle has a free program every year before the sun sets to explain its history. I like the program; I just don’t like the fact that it gets dark at 5:06 p.m. The saving grace of the solstice is that for each day after it, until the middle of summer we will have more minutes of daylight each day.

The day also marks the start of winter. I am a winter hater. It’s cold, dark and cloudy for weeks at a time. If you like those things, the more power to you. I just don’t really care for them. I lived in Florida as a child, and you don’t really have winter there. It snowed once and we drove to Georgia to see what it looked like on the ground.

Because of my lack of exposure to snow at a young age I never really developed a love of winter sports. I went skiing a few years ago. Learning to ski as a middle-aged man is not only hard it is likely dangerous. Measuring success by not falling when you get off the chair lift is not a very high bar to meet, but it is one I struggled with.

Driving on icy roads is something else. I am a good icy road driver. It’s the others on the road that I worry about. I kind of drive like the road is icy anyway — slow and with minimal use of the brakes. As I told my daughters when they learned to drive, “On the ice, you can steer or brake, you just can’t do both at the same time.” Pretty simple folks, and why more people don’t get it, I have no idea. The icy roads will undoubtedly cause schools to close. I no longer have to deal with the unpredictability of having children home for the day. I really feel for the pandemic fatigued parents that will have to deal with it this year.

Of course, we have some holidays at the start of winter. Christmas lights give us a needed distraction when it is dark two-thirds of the time. Not until January will we plunge into the true darkest of winter.

We are currently running Christmas decorations photos on page 2 of The Times that will finish up on Christmas Day with a whole page of photos. Christmas lights not only provide a bright spot when you are driving down the street, but hopefully, they can also do the same as you read your newspaper.

The first day of Spring is March 20. I will try not to be so grumpy then.

Art Smith is online manager of the The Times, he can be reached at



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