Sunday, 5 March 2017

March On!

The weather men tell us March 1st is the first day of spring. The spring equinox is March 21st but we don't put the clocks forward until the end of March. This is why winter seems so long here; it's too late after shortest day, December 21st, to wait for much needed extra hours of light. My iphone calendar tells me it was dark at 5.20 pm on 30th October - my husband's birthday, the night after putting the hour back. Four 'rough' months later - 1st February - it was dark at 5.30pm. Isn't that about the time we should be moving the hands of the clock forward? Early February would be roughly two months after shortest day ... October 30th is roughly two months before that date, shortest day is just about in the middle of those two dates.

Why do we have to trudge through near-darkness for almost eight weeks longer than I would deem necessary? There is a reason - something to do with the shift of the moon or the inclination of the earth. Or some other half-remembered truth.

I was a school girl when the experiment to do away with light-saving took place. The issue was that to gain longer, light evenings we had to trade this for evil, black mornings. We were dressed in flourescent arm bands as it was so dark in the mornings on our walk, yes walk, to the primary school gates. The experiment showed light evenings, ie putting the clocks forward before the end of March, was too dangerous for morning rush hour traffic. The mornings were simply too black. That's the reason we suffer long dark evenngs in February and March; to do otherwise means dangerous roads and school children at risk of accident.

Nature doesn't stop, thankfully; it believes it's spring whatever time the big hand is telling us. This weekend our miniature daffodils have bloomed and are sitting in their barrels and tubs on our front steps, welcoming visitors, postmen and passers-by. Our primulas also look beautiful and another barrel - of pulmonaria - is ready to move to the front of the house too. Spring is in the air. There was real warmth in the sun on Thursday.

I always look forward to this time of year; it's my birthday in ten days time, prunus are flowering, scattering petals confetti-like along our semi-rural road, and gardens start to look very pretty. It's still dark at 6.45pm on the fourteenth of March - not light at 8pm until we alter the clocks. I crave the light nights!! We need sunshine and daylight, especially for us, this year, as mum died so soon after we put the clocks back. It was already dark by 5.30pm the night she left us. It's been a long four months since 4th November.

Given the horrendous stories from here, the USA, Syria and many places covered by world news it's good for the soul to see spring come round again.  Since Brexit, Trumpism and the terrible underfunding of our NHS, prisons, libraries, schools, the disabled ... the news seems more miserable  as the weeks go by ...  it's important to remember the good things. Seed packets at the ready, forsythia blossoming, an array of cut flowers to be had and good company. Solid, fun friendships forged with like-minded folk equally stumped by events in the news are of the essence. My manuscript is with my editor - that's draft three of my novel - but the first time she has read the whole in one sitting. Editing and making cuts has taken me some weeks. Now to emerge from in front of the screen! Get out into the fresh air. Spring clean (!). It's March. Things are moving forward.March on!

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