Wednesday, December 24, 2014



The ancient Greeks thought of the four winds as gods, each with their own peculiar temperments. Boreas, the North Wind, was simultaneously viewed as menace and protector - his wife, a princess of Attica whom he kidnapped, bore him sons that would sail with Jason and his Argonauts in pursuit of the Golden Fleece. Though Boreas would swoop down from the north on his purple wings and bring the cold and misery of winter, he would sometimes join with his fellow diety Zephyr, the West Wind, to gift the mares of favored mortals with colts that would be the swiftest and strongest in the land. Boreas himself resided far to the north in Hyerborea, a land where, somewhat paradoxically, the season was one of eternal spring, and its inhabitants lived for 1,000 years in perfect happiness.

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring — not even a mouse:
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. - Clement C. Moore

Though much changed in detail, our own legends and myths of winter bear some startling parallels to the tales of old. In this harshest of seasons, when northern lands are locked in the forbidding grip of snow and ice, so devoid of the thriving and bountiful demonstrations of natural beauty in summer, Santa Claus merrily brings us cheer and good tidings.

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. - Larry Wilde

My holiday memories from a childhood spent in northern NJ are among the happiest of my days. There was always an abundance of family, a brightly decorated christmas tree in the living room with lots of presents under it, delicious things to eat and a log burning in a fireplace overhung by stockings. One of my favorite memories is of mom and dad taking my sister and I to Rockefeller Plaza to skate. It was always incredibly cold, with a strong, icy wind blowing thru the concrete canyons of Manhattan - but it was also wonderful.


Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. - Laura Ingalls Wilder

We celebrated Christmas my mother's way, using the traditions in which she was raised in Bologna. Christmas for us was a long celebration indeed, ending only in January when the Three Wise Men were said to have arrived in Bethlehem, following a star and bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Since I'm being completely candid, there are a few things I don't like about the Holiday season. To be honest, the Christmas service at church is always an especially long and boring one. Then there is eggnog - loved by my father and sister, but something I have always treated as somewhat less attractive than an infectious disease. There is also the realization that winter has really just begun, and the hardest months of the season - January and February - are still ahead. Nevertheless, it was and still is a fabulous time of year for me.

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? - Percy Bysshe Shelley

Dear Readers:
I actually still have some last minute Christmas shopping to do and am going to forego posting my followup to last week's discourse on the technical details and possibilities of graphene. I will bring it to you next week, though, to coincide with the arrival of the new year. The fact that this will also nearly overlap with the arrival of the Magi is hopefully propitious. ;-)

I want to thank all of you for your attention and kind words during the year, my first as a blogger. I am flattered that you find my writings of interest, and hope to bring you a great deal more useful data and information over the next year. There is no shortage of things to talk about.

I'd like to leave you with wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you all in 2015.