It’s Dec 22, 2022, in Edmonton, AB, Canada. And it’s -39C outside!
I am writing this from my tiny house loft. Blankets piled up. Coffee in hand.
Last night was the longest night of the year.
This is called “The Winter Solstice”.
Most have heard of the solstices and the equinoxes.
But few understand why they are so important.
First, I am going to give you the basics in a way ANYONE can understand.
Then I’ll teach you 3 reasons this is so important + tips you can use to improve your life.
THE BASICS OF THE SOLAR YEAR
Life as we know is only possible because of our miraculous relationship with our sun.
It provides a boom & bust of energy of food, temperatures, and our water cycles.
By understanding the sun and this cycle, we can design better homes and resilient lives in harmony with nature.
Here is an analogy to help explain (and to make you hungry):
The earth is a rotisserie chicken. And the sun is the heating element.
Our little rotisserie chicken called “Earth” is almost never facing the heating element evenly though.
Rather than facing the sun evenly, we spin on a tilt of 23.4°, AND in 365 spins we do 1 spin around the sun.
This way, half the planet is overcooking (creating summers) and half is a raw chicken (Winter).
On our orbit around the sun there are 4 very important days. Here they are in order:
(Note: These are for the Northern Hemisphere. They are the opposite for the Southern Hemisphere).
- The Summer Solstice: This is the day the earth is facing the heating element directly. This is the longest day of the year. Jun 21st.
- The Fall Equinox: This is the half-way point between the longest and shortest days of the year. Sept 21st. Everyone on the planet has a 12-hour day, and a 12-hour night. “Equinox” means “Equal Night” in latin fancy talk.
- The Winter Solstice: The shortest day of the year – Dec 21. On this day, we are facing more out to space (night), than we are facing the sun (Day). In Edmonton, AB, Canada, we get only 7.5 hours of sunlight and a 15.5 hour night!
- The Spring Equinox: The half-way point between the shortest and the longest days of the year. March 21. From here on out, we get more sun!
You are either the person who read all that and said “NEAT!” or you are thinking “blah, blah, blah”.
Either way, let’s now get to how to make this all relevant to your everyday life.
3 Reasons Why The Solar Year Is Important + Tips For Your Life
- HEATING & COOLING YOUR HOUSE
When the nights are long and cold, you want FREE HEATING. If you know the low path of the sun across the sky, you can bring those warming rays past where you planted trees, into your smartly placed windows, and then warm a wall or floor inside your house. Likewise, you can use deciduous trees and awnings in the summer to keep you house cool naturally. This is the fundamentals of passive solar design.
My 1 power tip for you here is plant fast-growing deciduous trees on the south & west side of your house. Their leaves will be off in the winter allowing the winter sun to hit your house, but in the summer they will be beautiful shading for a more comfortable home.
- GROWING FOOD
When it comes to food, it’s important to see fruit and veg as captured sunlight. You can grow MORE food (or not fail at it), if you understand how to stack your fruit trees, shrubs, and gardens within your space.
My 1 power tip here is to plant your seeds next to each other for companion planting for height. Some plants can shade others, or they can ascend in height so they are not overshading each other. This is also one of the basics of planning a food forest!
- LIVING AND WORKING WITHIN THE SEASONS… WITH LESS WORK
You can ride the energy of the seasons. “Make hay while the sun shines”.
But most of us live so disconnected from the land, we don’t see and understand the pulses.
If you do, you can create TONS of food, improve your homes, reduce work, and make a livelihood.
The key is to recognize how the sun creates stores of energy, and tap into them.
I’ll give you an example:
In the fall, there is a tremendous amount of organic matter that falls to the ground.
It is a battery of the suns energy stored as nutrients and potential heat.
There is composting technique that can use this free organic matter to provide heat.
If done right, the compost will provide heat all winter long, and then in the spring, you have rich compost to grow food in.
So by strategically using the fall leaves, you make winter warmer, and spring more abundant.
Want To Learn More?
If you would like to create a more efficient home, grow food, and create the property of your dreams, it would be my pleasure to work with you.
I help others as their personal consultant and designer. For example:
- Analyze your property, clarify your goals, and give you tons of ideas.
- Advise on what property to buy and business start-ups
- Provide coaching services. I join you on your property and show you how to install.
- Full design services. A comprehensive design that you or an install team can follow.
To learn more and book a consult, reach out on my website contact form, and I’ll get back to you.
Let’s make your property all it can be.
(Kenton is a passionate educator for sustainable living who lives in an off-grid tiny house in northern Alberta. Kenton runs a wide array of workshops on tiny homes, sustainable living, and edible landscaping. He also does consulting and design for homeowners, communities, and businesses)