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This afternoon, I got up to take a break from working and walked by a west facing window. It was late afternoon, and the view of the sunlight (which we have not seen much of in these parts recently) shimmering snow, clouds and shadows just painted a beautiful picture that I felt compelled to share. I love it when nature just stops you dead in your tracks and you have to take a deep breath and appreciate how small and inconsequential you really are in this great universe. This afternoon, at this moment, was one of those times. Simply breathtaking in person, I hope that you might have been somewhere where you saw something just as nice today. If not, enjoy this picture.

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I was playing around in the yard with the camera while we were getting (okay, while Tom was getting) the brush gathered for the fire ring. The sunset was amazing and the moon that popped out shortly afterward was quite cool as well.

Although the snow has been with us for a while here in Vermont, today is the first official day of winter. The winter soltice. The shortest day of the year up here in the frozen north and from here on in, we are a direct path to summer. The days start to get longer again and the sun stronger. In the southern hemisphere, this is the longest day of the year and they are on track to shorter days. Today there will be 8 hours and 56 minutes of daylight here in our neck of the woods.

The word “solstice” means “standing still sun”. It is traditionally marked as the day that celebrates the return of the sun. The winter solstice is also commonly referred to as Yule.  Winter solstice celebrations center around traditions to ensure that the sun returns and gets stronger. In many cultures it is celebrated with symbols of light and warmth. One of the more interesting that I learned about is in Ireland, there is a megalithic passage tomb in Newgrange. The passage was built around 3200 B.C. has a passage 19 meters long that leads to the center of the structure. It was built in such a manner that the center and passages are illuminated for 17 minutes each year on the day of the winter solstice due to the position of the sun in the sky.

Photo: newsfile.ie

Admission into the passage for this once-a-year event is held by lottery. Each year 50 names are drawn and two tickets are given to each winner.

Sunday was actually a sunny day. It was the first that we have had in a while. The first day that it actually didn’t rain, even a little, at some point during daylight hours. It gave the peepers a chance to get a good look at the leaves some traveled pretty darn far to see, without having to be bundled up in layers of plastic and gortex to keep from getting drowned.

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All around us these days the mountains are exploding with colors – foliage is definitely at its best, but come on people, be careful where you just stop on the side of the highways to take pictures.

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Even the animals enjoyed the warm, sunny day. Here, Skye and Phoenix catch some rays while they take in the foliage and think – mmmmm – leaves and apples, life is good.

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Evilwife on the move

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