I had to wake early to take my daughter to a bus stop so she and some of her friends could go to Waimea, for no particular reason, other than it's Christmas vacation for them, but it was a chance to get to Kaloko-Honokohau before dawn to hike. Hualalai and Mauna Loa were very clear about half an hour before sunrise:
There is something sublime about the light at this hour, made more special by the knowledge that this is the shortest* day of the year:
Yesterday I read that the Little Ice Age (1500-1750), a period of global cooling, may have been caused by Christopher Columbus. That is, the horrific pandemic the European diseases caused in the Americas, killing 95% of the population, resulted in reforestation of previously agricultural land, which pulled so much carbon out of the atmosphere that it triggered the Little Ice Age. I found the link to Science Digest at National Review Online, which linked it with an idiotic remark about trees causing global cooling (although it seems to me to be bad news for those who deny the possibility of anthropogenic global warming, if there is evidence of anthropogenic global cooling). In this context let me recommend 1491 by Charles Mann, a wonderful, if heartbreaking study of how complex, advanced and numerous the native cultures of the Americas were, before they were swept away, by disease and deliberate acts. As I was thinking about these issues, the sun was coming up, at its furthest* Southerly point, right over the summit of Mauna Loa (from Kaloko-Honokohau):
The park was green everywhere, from the rains 10 days ago, and this Maiapilo flower basked in the first rays of the shortest* day. Happy Winter Solstice*!
UPDATE:* Actual shortest day is December 21.