Welcome to winter, everyone. December 21. The Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year. Sorry this is out so late ... deadlines have kept me very occupied this week. In fact, yesterday I didn't even e-mail one, so be sure to check the post below for some more Christmas groaners.
According to the Farmer's Almanac, today is one of two times each year that the sun stands farthest from the equator. It actually appears to stand still, which is why it's called a "solstice." That's a combination of two words: sol, meaning sun, and stice is from stitium, which means "stoppage."
It had been a hard winter in the Appalachians. The snow had piled up, deeper and deeper, the temperature dropped, rivers froze, and many people suffered. The Red Cross used helicopters to fly in emergency supplies and provide aid.
One crew had been working day after day, very long hours. They climbed back into their helicopter and were finally on their way home late one evening, when they saw a little cabin, nearly submerged in the snow, with a thin whisper of smoke coming from the chimney.
The team figured whoever was inside must have been about out of fuel, food, and perhaps needed some medical attention. So they decided to make one more stop. Because of the trees, they had to put down nearly a mile from the cabin. They put on heavy backpacks, full of supplies, grabbed their snow gear, and began trudging through the heavy snow, often waist deep, until they reached the cabin.
Using their small shovels, they dug out the doorway and exhausted, panting and perspiring, they pounded on the door.
When it was finally opened by a thin, gaunt older woman, the lead man gasped out, "We're from the Red Cross."
The woman looked at her rescuers, was silent for a moment, then said, "It's been a hard winter, Sonny, I just don't think I can give anything this year."
[Wit and Wisdom; retold by Mark Raymond]
WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "To shorten winter, borrow some money due in spring." (W.J. Vogel)