December 18, 2020
Community Voices / COVID be damned — if you could be anywhere in the world on the Winter Solstice, where would you choose?
Salish Current readers

Watching the waves break on a Hawaiian beach is some people’s idea of a good way to spend the Winter Solstice, but travel is out of the question for many this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, we can dream, and Salish Current readers sent in their thoughts on where they would like to be on what is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

photo: Amy Nelson © 2020
December 18, 2020
Community Voices / COVID be damned — if you could be anywhere in the world on the Winter Solstice, where would you choose?
Salish Current readers

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Readers were invited to share their ideal locations for marking December’s Solstice this year … if it weren’t for COVID-19. Read on, for a travelogue of cherished spots around the globe (and please note, that as lovely as these are, the views expressed in the essays, analyses and opinions as Community Voices are those of the authors exclusively and not those of Salish Current).

“A great way to spend the solstice — or any wintery day — is hiking along Icicle Creek outside of Leavenworth.” — Pete Haase
“I want to be in the Southwest for the solstice and planetary alignment, even if it’s a little chilly. At least it’d be sunny with clear night skies. I’ve already bailed on Arches campground reservations last spring and this fall due to the plague, and while others have it much worse, it still grates on me. This is the Double Arch at Arches National Park.” — Rick Haley
“Back to the sunny Antarctica where it’s midsummer and full of curious penguins, indifferent whales, territorial seals, dazzling glaciers, glowing icebergs, and carbon-footprint-heavy (fellow) ecotourists.” — Gene Helfman
moonrise over Lopez Island
“On Winter Solstice 2020, I wouldn’t go far, even though I could in this COVID-be-damned fantasy. I’d be at home on San Juan Island where I’d have a clear view of the night sky to be able to see “The Great Conjunction,” when Jupiter and Saturn appear smooshed together as one big bright star (even though they are planets). It’s the first time this has happened since the year 1623 and that’s pretty cool! If it really were true that I could damn COVID, I’d have a star (planet)-gazing party. Friends would gather on our cozy deck, bundled up in hats and gloves, sleeping bags and comforters, and ooh and ahh together. A bonfire, hot cocoa and mulled wine would be close by. I don’t have a photo of The Great Conjunction handy, so I’m including another celestial island treat — the moonrise over Lopez.” — Shaun Hubbard
“I miss my Hawaii. After a week of leaden skies and ceaseless downpour, I am longing for ‘home,’ and sun-warmth, the fragrance of plumeria and tuberose, Mother Ocean and a good, long stay at my son’s home in the tropical forest up on Tantalus. I miss our daily walks down to the bridge where we can take in views like this. I’ll take my Solstice and my Mele Kalikimaka on a bright, Hawaiian Christmas Day! Aloha.” — Debbi Anderson-Frey
“Dee and I love traveling just about anywhere. Our third favorite city in the world (after Lynden and Bellingham) is Paris. We’d love to be there.” — Chuck and Dee Robinson 
“With family and friends, any place would do. Must have a celebratory fire to light up the dark.” — Genevieve Iverson
“A Caribbean island where I could see a sunset like this one.” — Matt Benoit
“I pine and yearn obsessively for Solstice starting about mid-November. At the start of December I bring in a bunch of twigs and branches from the yard and start watching them and cheering them on. So far, they always bloom by Solstice day and I announce that the light will return again. So my living room is good enough for me. Come January, though, I think I would choose to go to Sicily.” — Lane Morgan
“I’d go to Holden Village in the North Cascades, just on the edge of the Wenatchee National Forest. There is very little light pollution there, and on the darkest day (if it’s clear, which is unlikely!) the stars would be spectacular and I suspect the Milky Way might be visible. I remember some wonderful nights of sitting in the open-air hot tub with friends, quietly looking up at moonlit mountains and stars, with the steam of the hot tub rising into the cold crispness of the mountain air.” — Alex Meacham (Photo “Mountain and Stars” © Mary Ellen Chiles)
“I would return with my husband to Olargues, a tiny medieval village in the Languedoc region of France. It would be our eighth visit there — we went seven times between 2000 and 2014. True love…” — Cynthia St. Clair
“Well, of course, I would rather find a labyrinth in New Zealand, Australia or anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere to walk during the Winter Solstice. But COVID be damned! And no one has organized an indoor walk in the Crystal Ballroom of the old Leopold downtown this year (or for many years). But, hey! We have a pretty beautiful one right here in Bellingham, at Fairhaven Park. The paved labyrinth and surrounding area will be soggy this time of year, and the wind and rain will try to blow me off course, no doubt, so this sailor will wear her foulies and carefully steer for brighter, longer days. Let there be light in 2021!” — Kathy Sheehan