Kind of like in summer, the winter Solstice just slipped by with nary a wink or a nod. The approach is so gradual in both ways that only a calendar watcher (or member of a pagan community) knows for sure what day to celebrate Solstice. The extra rainy December meant that it was cloudy most nights. Night sky changes were hard to follow despite regular bedtime walks. I have seen Orion less than five times since he first returned to the night sky. The same goes for seeing the Pleiades, a little distressing as I have always thought getting a glimpse of this seven-sister cluster brought good fortune.
Star viewing may be limited these overcast days while whale watching at the Oregon Coast is at the year’s best. In the four weeks spanning the New Year, southward migration of gray whales moves through faster than the northward migration with cows and newborn calves. The males will follow soon, more slowly. My favorite whale-watching lookout is the shelter at the top of the Cape Perpetua trail. Shelter is the critical word here. There are volunteers offering whale information at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center as well as the overlook along Hwy. 101 at Cape Perpetua.
The next year will certainly be different from the last. We begin with a snow pack in the mountains that last year’s winter never came close to accumulating. The mountain meadows will have lots more flowers to watch. Hopefully, the stressed trees will recover.