Photo credit: Cheryl Mullen Stockwell, used with permission.

“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

So asked Percy Bysshe Shelley in the final stanza of his poem Ode to the West Wind.  Such a joyful thought from a poet not exactly known for optimism! Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere celebrated the winter solstice this week. It is the beginning of winter, the shortest period of daylight and longest period of darkness in the year.

The solstice coincided with the Great Conjunction (sometimes called the Christmas Star), when Jupiter and Saturn were visible on the horizon after sunset and appeared to be nearly touching despite actually being more then 450 million miles apart. It was too cloudy in Central New York for this to be visible to us, but the pictures were truly spectacular. It is a thing of wonder to be able to witness this fantastic sight and think for a minute about how vast our universe truly is.

In the Boyne Valley, County Meath, Ireland the winter solstice is when the innermost chamber of the passage tomb at Newgrange is lit by the rising sun. Built 5,200 years ago – before Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids – this Neolithic monument is aligned so that the light of dawn shines through the roof box and all the way into the chamber at the heart of the tomb. I’m not sure which fact is more amazing, that the ancients were able to construct this passage tomb to so perfectly capture the light, or the fact that in Ireland of all places, it has remained watertight all these years. The Irish photographer Ken Stone (his name is not a pun!) has a terrific collection of images that might interest you. Stone and collaborator Anthony Murphy of Mythical Ireland discovered an additional henge at the Newgrange site in 2018.  The extreme droughts of that summer revealed this archaeological treasure when Murphy and Stone flew their drones overhead, intending to capture images of renovations underway at the heritage site.   

So here we are, at the onset of Winter. As each day passes on our march toward Spring, we gain precious minutes of daylight. It’s hard to underestimate the mental health value of these longer periods of sunlight, especially at the end of this difficult year. Lift your face to the sky, let the sun shine on you, and know that better days are ahead. From all of us at the Wladis Law Firm, our warmest, sunniest wishes to you and those you hold dear.   

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Jennifer B. Granzow

Ms. Granzow holds a JD from the Syracuse University College of Law. Her practice is concentrated in the areas of business and corporate law, real estate, economic development, and government relations, with an emphasis on grants and public funding.

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