Not in the solstice sense, though that's cool in an astronomical pagan connected to the universe way.
No, it's winter because of the snow. A weekend blizzard was followed by two more days of snow less than a week later. It's never easy for me to estimate snow depth because of drifting and plowing and the many microclimates Duluth has. Snowfall's affected by distance and direction from the Lake as well as wind direction and height above the Lake. I guessed at 1 1/2-2 feet on the ground and that looks about right according to the national snow cover map. I'm so glad I live in the north.
Friday was a big Lake Effect snow day. It wasn't snowing when I woke up but when I looked an hour or so later there were several new inches on the ground. I took the Lakewalk, which had been damaged in the usual place by the blizzard the week before, to downtown. The clouds and water were a dark grey, the waves were among the best I've seen here, the snow was falling fast. I of course was giddy with delight.
The damaged section was in place but completely covered with ice from the spray of the waves. When a photo appeared on the newspaper's website later that day showing it cleared and reopened, I wondered if it had been taken the day before this storm or if it had been cleared again since I passed. The corner of the Lake was a churning bowl of ice water.
It's winter because of the first of the season car stuck in the drifts which accumulate in the alley just outside my window. It's winter because of the frost on my kitchen window, a mix of straight lines and curls which together make a miniature forest.
It's winter because of the cold--early this morning I climbed to the university on the hill to get some library books now that the student hordes are gone for a couple weeks. I walked up the middle of the snow covered streets and under the snow covered conifers. It was well below zero and my beard was heavily frosted by the time I got there. One must be careful to let it defrost on its own; touch it too soon and it will snap off and you'll find yourself clean-shaven.
Later today, after the Lakecloud lifted away from the water, I saw ice and snow covering a large amount of the surface for the first time of the season. And it was good.
Oh, and while we're celebrating the snow and cold, watch the ads, sign the petition, and save the polar bear.