“Look at that – it’s 5.30 and it’s still daylight,” exclaimed a colleague as we left a meeting at school.
We smiled at being delighted at the days growing longer – didn’t the days always grow longer? Wouldn’t the world come to a sudden end if its orbit were so changed that the daylight did not come back? wasn’t it a statement of the obvious? Wasn’t it like looking at the grass and saying, “Oh look! It’s green”? Nevertheless, there was a childish thrill at the light in the western sky. It mattered that the light was returning.
And it wasn’t just the light. The snow day on 1st February had been a reminder that this was still an uncertain time. Spring has been tentative in its appearances; perhaps frightened at a sudden final flick of winter’s tail.
Driving home from Worle, I willed the light to last. The motorway is much easier to drive and Sedgemoor easier to cross when the daylight lingers. As the Equinox approaches, the days begin to lengthen at a gallop, four minutes a day, a half an hour a week. Perhaps it should not make a difference: why would most of us need to worry? We are not framers or market gardeners. We are not trying to grow crops, not are trying to tend livestock, or watch for the moment when herds can return to fields.
Yet there is something of the primitive that remains in most of us, there is something deep-rooted in our psyche that delights at the bright mornings and the sunlit evenings. It is only the Gulf Stream that allows so many of us to live so far north; were we in Canada, we would be on the ice of Hudson Bay; were we in Russia, we would be under the Siberian snow; in the southern hemisphere, we would be among the peaks of Tierra del Fuego.
There were daffodils in bloom at the end of Windmill Road on 22nd December, a winter variety, but daffodils all the same. A new crop has appeared this week, spring daffodils to catch the eye of those passing through the village. A religious person might feel that the appearance of such blooms had a sacramental quality about it; that they were an outward and physical sign of the springtime that is at once temporal and spiritual. This evening there was even a hint of warmth in the air. a scent of the bright days to come.