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Griffith Park observatory, sunset, December 21

Griffith Park observatory, sunset, December 21

With about a bazillion of my fellow Angelenos, temporary and trans-planted, I walked up to the top of the Griffith Park lookout to watch the sun set on December 21, down to the last cloudy filaments. Then kept going for a bit, till true darkness fell. I’ve been doing this a number of years, and the solstice hike is one of my favorite urban nature rituals. This year there was an extra kick because of the Mayan calendar turn–essentially the reset back after 144,000 days. Pretty awesome that it happened on a solstice.

I’m kind of susceptible to the idea, because Japanese calendrical systems affect everything from reign names and their gloss on auspiciousness to formal letter salutations. In language school, for example, we learned one such gloss of season (in these days of brisk cold…etc.), that was delinked from its poetic context and the saijiki manuals that might give you seasonal words for haiku, to be bundled with an apology for returning a late library book. How ever will one apologize with the proper amount of rigor if global climate change causes a rupture in ritual relation to accepted calendrical time? I guess it has already happened once, in 1873, when the Gregorian calendar was introduced for the purposes of commerce, and “new year” calibrated to January 1.

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