Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Solstice: Hike or Watch TV

What better way to celebrate the winter solstice than hiking? Let the brisk cold air freeze your nostril hairs together. Wear several constrictive layers of long underwear. Pray for purchase as you crunch and slip over the unpredictable winter terrain.

Everyone should commune with nature on midwinter’s eve, unless you have a headache or you’re tired, in which case you should watch The Dark Crystal.

The reasons why one should watch this Jim Henson masterpiece are limitless, but for hikers and nature enthusiasts this epic film adventure holds special appeal.

The hero, Jen, is sent on a mission by his foster father, the dying leader of the Mystics. As Jen tries to discover how to save the world from evil, he travels through the most stunning imaginary landscapes. He ventures through puppet bogs where even the smallest polyps gurgle and burp and into rocky wastelands inhabited by creatures that appear to be a cross between the common tumbleweed and a sea anemone.

Meanwhile the remaining members of Jen’s foster family set out on their own journey, by foot. The old Mystics lumber along, slow and steady, like they never have and never will do anything else. As an avid slow-hiker, this fills me with great pleasure. I often think of these creatures that look so much like small plant eating dinosaurs. As I totter along the trail, my backpack pitching back and forth adding extra sway to my slow rolling gait, I wish that I too had four three-fingered arms.

But scenery and slow-hiking Mystics are not all this film has to offer. In the dark cold bleakness of winter, it warms the heart with a love story of the best variety: clumsy, clueless boy meets wild and savvy arrow wielding girl. And to top it all off, the major plot point revolves around a peculiar celestial alignment making this the perfect film to celebrate this lovely celestial event.

The Dark Crystal is a timeless classic, if you can forgive the special effects. It’s not their fault that they were created in1982.


  1. laugh if you must, but I've never actually seent this movie. Your review makes me want to put it on my netflix queue. A solstice hike, however, sounds lovely.

  2. You should definitely go on a hike today and then warm up with a cup of hot coco and a movie. You don't have to put it on your Netflix cue - they offer it on demand. Have fun! And happy Solstice!

  3. Aaaah ha! My view instant choices just expanded.
    Mahalo :-)

  4. I say there’s always time for both too! ;) Just don’t let the late mornings of winter take you over and you will find plenty of time for both activities. I am always excited to spend an evening warming up after long day out in the cold with a blanket and a movie!!! Some times just I wonder how/if people can tell that we are related? LOL, and have a good night.

    PS: We will need to trade in those boots for skis someday soon.

  5. Steve,
    Come on over and I'll strap skis right onto my boots! I hope you had a great Solstice, we did but it was too short;)

    Happy Holidays!

  6. Great post Annie! Who knew that the Winter Solstice, hiking, and Skeksis could be blended together so fluidly? Thanks to you, Brian Foud has been drawing woodland creatures for me in my dreams the last couple of nights. Wonderful!

  7. Oops. Should have been spelled "Froud" in my last post. :)

  8. I was remiss in not having given Froud credit in the above post! I'm so glad you mentioned him Jose. He was behind the puppet design in The Dark Crystal. He is also very famous for illustrating Faeries published in 1979 and Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy book in 1994 among others. His faeries dance around in my head a little too often not to end up in a blog post someday!

  9. BREAKING NEWS: On the never-mistaken website Wikipedia I read that a sequel titled "Power of the Dark Crystal", might be released in 2011! Brian Froud is designing it!