Dusk on the winter solstice is when darkness finally looses its battle with light. I quite like the shortest day, it brings hope of a new beginning and I know that in a couple of weeks, signs of spring will start to appear. Even though it’s cold, I already notice the first tiny shoots of snowdrops breaking through in the hedgerows. They won’t flower for at least a month yet, but just seeing them is enough to lift the spirit. In a sheltered corner of the garden, a clump of bluebells is already an inch or so high. They’re not real, just hyacinths planted out and reverting to their original form.
I like to see what time it gets dark on the shortest day. It’s just after 4 o’clock and as the light fades, there’s an eerie glow to the garden lighting up the goldfinches on the ground under the feeders. Gradually the light dims, the wind drops and all becomes still; the birds disappear and little moves. A robin sneaks in for a last morsel and a blackbird crosses the murk to roost in the hedge at the bottom of the garden. I peer through the window looking for life and catch sight of a coal tit nipping in to take a sunflower seed. At 4.15 it’s all over and by 4.30 I can just about make out the feeders. Darkness falls by 4.45 and my welcome light clicks on to illuminate the willow tree, but reminds me that I should think again about this needless use of carbon.
It’s amazing how the evenings appear to lengthen after the turn of the year. Each day is longer by about two minutes, but I always feel that there’s a speeding up of lighter nights in late January. Best of all is when the sun shines and prolongs these tediously short winter days.