By Deb Lahey, President & CEO, Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
As much as I love the holiday season, the constant hustle to juggle events, decorate, manage long to-do lists, and prepare for family gatherings can be overwhelming. So let me share an antidote, compliments of nature: Spend time outdoors in a few moments of stillness.
Call it a nature “time out” or escape outdoors. Our family finds that time in nature, particularly in the quite of winter, is restorative and a time for reflection and connection.
To me the rhythm of crunching snow underfoot helps me slow down and notice nature’s surprises, like the beauty of the stark trees in the winter cold. After spending some time outdoors, I feel restored and happier during a season that can feel exhausting.
Let’s not use the excuse that “I don’t have time to stop for nature with so much to do.” A walk outdoors or even standing in your backyard looking at stars slows us down and gives us a quiet moment. Stillness can be energizing.
This Thursday is the Winter Solstice, the longest night (or, depending on your perspective, the shortest day) of the year. It is a perfect time to take a moment in nature — in your backyard or park or forest preserve.
If you want to know more about the solstice, I’ve shared a few fun facts below.
Also, I would love for you to join us for a season celebration at the Nature Museum in our tradition of welcoming the new year at our Noon-Year’s Eve on Dec. 31, from 11:30am to 12:30pm. The Museum provides many nature moments both inside and outside for your family to enjoy.
May you find joy in your season celebrations and in nature’s quiet gifts this holiday.
Facts about Chicago’s Winter Solstice:
- Chicago will experience the Winter Solstice on Thursday, Dec. 21, at 10:27 a.m., when the Northern Hemisphere officially welcomes winter.
- We will experience only 9 hours and 32 minutes of daylight that day.
- At the same time, our friends in the Southern Hemisphere will celebrate the Summer Solstice.
- Chicagoans who can’t wait for warm weather can be encouraged that we gain a minute or two of daytime each day beginning Dec. 22 as we march toward summer.