December 20th, 2008 - The Solstice Must Go On

Um, continuing with last week after yesterday (!), I wanted to ongo the topic of the Solstice Event at Lowry, and post a few more pics to describe the scene. 
Hmmm, but is it ironic that the shortest day of the year should get such a long write-up in the blog? 
Firstly, or whatever number we're on now, (!) one of the questions I ask my program attendees about snakes is, "Do snakes have skeletons? Do they have bones?"
Many people, even though we have a snake anatomy chart on the wall at both of the nature centers I work at, say, "No!" Quite emphatically.  

Well they do. They're actually quite thin and very fragile, similar to fish bones. Worms do not, however. But they have five pairs of hearts, so they don't feel slighted. 
So be careful not to drop your snake or you could easily break it's bones. We had a snake with bad arthritis that recently died at Springbrook, she had very inflamed vertebrae. Nothing is sacred. Especially a serpent, come to think of it.
Anyway, they have this cool snake skeleton at Lowry. 

These were the activities awaiting you in the "Craft Room": Making a Star Gazer (toilet paper tube with holes poked through the aluminum foil covering one end, to adequately represent the night sky (makes a great restroom conversation starter), making a Sunset Shaker and Solstice Drum, for accompanying the Holiday Carols or making just plain celebratory noises, working a finger labyrinth in the sand, and experiencing the wonderful "Star Dome", which is a home-made air-filled bubble along the lines of a "Moonwalk Room" made of dark tarps with holes poked in the top to represent the night constellations. You can get about fifteen people inside laying on their backs and demonstrating amazing knowledge of astronomical sky decipherment. Which was completely impressive I must say. I found the North Star. Astronomy is not one of my strong points.

Dianne Rowse points out some part of Orion with a laser-pointer cat toy.

Meanwhile in the basement, people are trying out the awesome labyrinth, which was designed by one of our local naturalist artists. I must admit, there is something reverent about walking the labyrinth, something found "between the lines." And I mean that more figuratively than literally.
I tried for a "ghostly shot" with a long time exposure and meagerly pulled it off. You can see some people stopping as they begin to turn the corners and proceed inward. (Meanwhile, The Amboy Dukes featuring Ted Nugent are playing "Journey to the Center of the Mind" inside my head...)

One of our cute crafter kids putting the finishing touches on her solstice drumstick.

And the band played on. The band would be Dr. Nick Rowse, with fiddle, caressing the carols of the season.

Hey, it ain't a party in my book until somebody lights the frozen Bundt Cake.

Woops, Halloween leftover I guess. Wrong group of pagans. Nevermore.

Here's the big show, Dianne Rowse explaining the Scandinavian traditions of the Solstice time. The cool thing was that from my position I could see a deer watching her through the window and when she tapped her bell to get everyone's attention, his head snapped up like toast in a toaster. Evidently it wasn't worth getting all worried about at that point though, so he kept on munching bark and following the program through the window. That would all change when I came out in the guise of a twelve-foot tall puppet in the vague form of Old Man Winter.

The bonfire ROARED, that is um, sizzled on as the temperature continued to drop. From the +17 degrees during my arrival at 3 PM, it had plummeted down to +2 degrees plus a nasty wind-chill at 4:30 PM. Ah, the First Day of Winter does not disappoint! Plus it was snowing.

Either the labyrinth became more popular as time went on, or someone took a wrong turn and traffic was backing up.  
Maybe next year I'll see if I can walk it in the puppet suit...