For the 5th year in a row, Winter solstice was cold and windy at Shell Mound.
About 35 hearty folks came out to celebrate the shortest day of the year with Friends of Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs. The hot tea was a hit and disappeared quickly. The iced tea and lemonade . . . not so much.
Musicians John Thalacker, Doug Lindhout, and Sandy Lindhout came to entertain, but their instruments and fingers refused to play in the misty cold.
Donna Thalacker led a guided walk along the Dennis Creek Trail and Peg Hall along the Shell Mound Trail.
We all stood on the pier and watched the sky where we knew the sun was setting behind the clouds. We thought good thoughts about our Indian ancestors and about our Refuge that protects this legacy for all of us.
We will be back for Summer Solstice in June and maybe next December, we will see the Winter Solstice sun set in a cloudless sky near Palmetto Mound. Plan to come!
Friends will host a Winter Solstice event at Shell Mound on Tuesday December 21 starting at 4:00 and ending with the setting of the sun over Palmetto Mound. All are welcome, rain or shine, and the event is free. For the past several years, the weather has been cold, overcast, rainy, even stormy. It has nevertheless been a wonderful place to be for the solstice. This year, we hope for warmer and sunnier.
Why at Shell Mound? Shell Mound is a large shell-bearing archaeological site that was once the location of special gatherings for Native American groups across the broader region. This 10-page booklet tells the Shell Mound story.
A major part of the story is that Shell Mound is on one of the arms of a huge, U-shaped dune, much of which has eroded since it was formed by ice-age winds. The dune is aligned with the solstices. The sun sets over the open end of the dune and rises over the closed end, as the booklet linked above relates.
Palmetto Mound is at the other end of the two arms at the open end of the dune. Native peoples buried their dead at Shell Mound, near where the sun sets at Winter Solstice. Shell Mound is a sacred and storied site. You will hear more if you can come and join the event.
The event will include: