Saturday, January 7, 2012

Capturing the 2011 Winter Solstice

We left Sweden in  late autumn when the days were dark and frosty.  I mentioned previously that I had seen the first snow that heralded the approach of winter right before our flight. The snowfall lasted for only a few minutes. After that, when the thin layer of snow melted, the frosts took over again.

It was a time of piercing cold and dreadful darkness, an ideal time to fly away to the sun. I still love winter, regardless of how cold and dark it is, I love to see its opening and the succeeding snowfalls that would ensue, but this time, I wasn't there to savor the experience. We were scheduled to travel to my homeland that time. We left the place sans snow, and in gloom.

After about 30 hours of flying (from Umeå to Manila, including stop-overs - Stockholm, London and Hongkong), we finally arrived at a warm and bright place in the tropics.

When the three-week vacation was over, which slid away so fast, we came back here. It was already dark when our plane circled over Umeå before landing, though it was only in the mid-afternoon. First thing I noticed as I peered through the window was the ground covered all over with snow. So it had already snowed in our city. That was December 14, and tons of snow had been piled up on the roadsides.

Back here, I heard some say that there might not be much snow this winter.  Looking at the landscapes around, I almost believed it. The grass started to emerge as the snow gradually melted. Successive rain showers turned the snow into ice, making the walkways slippery. Would this season turn out to be a snowless winter?

The winter solstice in December 22 gave me a glimmer of hope. I was fortunate to be assigned to a job in a newly constructed apartment building along the river. And even more fortunate to work at a higher floor with a stunning view of the river. I just took my lunch and was preparing for work at 1:00 p.m. when a glint from the veranda caught my eyes. The sun shone brightly over the horizon, its brilliance reflected on the water that wasn't frozen yet. I fished my camera from my backpack, rushed out to the veranda and took lots of pictures. I was freezing and yet ecstatic. For two consecutive years, I was able to witness the sun in its full splendor exactly during the winter solstice.

To me, the splendor of this winter solstice is a promise of a  season that's filled with marvels. Already, heaven has showered myriads and myriads of snowflakes that blanket the ground with glorious whiteness that attests to the grandeur of the One who designed each sparkling snowflake.

It snowed and snowed.

And it still keeps snowing and snowing and snowing...