I wanted to visit the Southwest Nature Preserve for a few minutes today, on the shortest day of the year. For months now, the sun’s daily climb has traced a lower path, its zenith a little lower in the sky every day. In Arlington, Texas, the sun set at 5:26pm, ending the shortest day of the year.
At the preserve, I was (for a time) alone, watching the sunset on a particularly warm day. According to Weather Underground, the high in Arlington was 73, and that is 21 degrees above the average high. In the woods, there was the scent of damp soil and leaves following yesterday’s rain. At the pond, a solitary turtle remained on a branch above the water, long after the last slanting rays of the sun were blocked by the trees. She (a slider the size of this one would be a female) turned and slipped beneath the water, but tomorrow she will be able to bask for a few seconds longer.
The solstice marks the beginning of winter. If we get more rain, I look forward to quiet bottomland forests with pools where salamanders are breeding. I hope to spend some hours looking for and maybe photographing birds among the bare branches of oaks, cottonwoods, and bois d’arcs, coffee in one hand and a field guide in the other. If I’m lucky, at some point I will be able to crunch through new snow among trees almost magically highlighted in white, in a woodland hushed and quiet as only snowfall can make it.
The days will start getting longer, and maybe colder, but there is a lot to look forward to!