The Solstice Itself

Solstice Snow on the Ring of Brodgar


Luckily, on the evening preceeding  the early morning eclipse, my snow tires arrived.  These would bring me confidence to leave by car.  I had figured out that I couldn’t miss attempting MaesHowe and was planning on walking down the hill to a taxi, but the tires were on and the garage owner who drove me down and back was heartily expressing how much better they worked on the slippery road surface.

Apparently a heavy frost had come in the night or earliest morning and plants were draped in ice crystals.  Before Maes Howe, I needed to see the Ring of Brodgar in this glory.

Some stones at Brodgar and the frost

On a very snow covered road, Guinness and I drove past fields of the icy plants.  Beyond beautiful they were.  Then at Brodgar, we walked between and around them as we circuited the ring from the outside.  All the while, there was a mist across the hills of Hoy.  Each of my stones were painted with snow that showed their personality more clearly than with sunlight and shadows.

Walking to MaesHowe

Just before we entered the tomb, the sun was so low on the horizon!

I walked around MaesHowe once.  Another woman with such seriousness walked around it twice.  As I walked and trudged through the snow, I repeated over and over, “The earth is full of light.” Once again I said those words as the setting sun did cast its beam through the stone walled tunnel and landed on its back wall.  Again, I put thoughts greater than myself into that chamber.  We were a small number who had chosen to attempt this feat stone age humanity.  AND on the same day as a full lunar eclipse!  This was more than coincidence.  It could be auspicious!

And….the beam of light from the sun setting between the Hoy hills was clear and lit up the back wall of MaesHowe with an amber and widening slit of light.  We all sighed in pleasure, as such a successful sighting is rare.


December 22, I awoke again to a calm wind and a clear sky.  THERE WAS MAGIC.  The sky had been clear for the entirety of the amber lunar eclipse yesterday.  The Neolithic tomb wall was lit by the setting sun at yesterday’s sunset and today I planned to see the sun set outside the cottage just for the serenity of it.

Tea on the Veranda "Solstice"

But it was warm, bright, and sunny early in the day, so I brought the chairs back out from the day before.  I breakfasted on an apple, cheese, oatcakes, and instant coffee.  Guinness pulled at his lead and barked at the few signs of traffic below.  At some point, I believed he was also barking at his echo.  Soon I knew the echo to be coming from my friend who makes daily walks and often comes round.

Another chair was put out and for the remainder of the sun, we lunched, talked, played, and shared the magic of it all.

As the sun grew lower and the sky more orange and peachy, two more sets of friends came by with Christmas gifts, chat, and another invitation to stop by on Christmas day.

There is magic.


There is something about the snow that just exposes the underlying structure of the hills on Hoy.  It is like the skeleton is more easily revealed with a heavier blanket of now over it.  I can tell that within a day, the hills will be back to the green and brown color and all the glorious details that I was able to discern, will be gone.

In hours, the front road that  I awoke to see covered in thick ice, is now filled with muddy puddles.  And it melted while high winds blew.  A very strange way to watch the snow disappear. I keep waiting to hear about hurricane winds or blizzard winds, but only numbers of gales are given on the radio weather.  Everyone just gets on with thinks while the high winds buffet buildings and small dogs outside for a pee.

Hoy from the hill or brae I walk Guinness up each morning. And this is the morning after a night time that there was a great melt!

I think folks are nonchalant because the absence of trees makes it hard to worry about flying and broken objects.  Buildings are built of stone. Roofs are thick tiles or stone slabs.  Most electric wires are buried.  So…what is around to fall on one’s head?  Someone else’s laundry off their clothesline, that is all I could see that could take flight.

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