Monday, January 11, 2016

The Returning of Longer Days

You can only come to the morning through the shadows.
~J.R.R. Tolkien

I love autumn, except for one thing: shorter days. That is, less daylight in the 24 hours that we call a day. I probably did not mind the shorter days as a child so much but since becoming an adult, I have notice I dislike the short days more with each year. I want to go to bed a 8:00 at night, but should I do that I most likely will be awake at 3:00 in the morning. When I was in high school I remember how much I loved waking up in the dark of the morning, before everyone else, and quietly preparing for my day, planning and praying.

Life seemed so complicated then, but it is far more complicated now.

My daughter wildly swings from being the early morning girl to being the late morning girl. The duration of each can be weeks to just a few days. She sets her alarm early and wakes up her father (when he is home) and me before she turns it off and goes back to sleep until I get her up. On her early mornings, she would get up to exercise, but when she is not so inclined as she has not been for a few weeks now, we still are waken for no real reason. However, after struggling with her inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for over a year, I am thankful that she has a healthier sleep pattern now. We tried several supplements, homeopathic remedies, and a no-screens policy one hour before bedtime to help her get back to the habit of falling asleep and staying asleep more easily. She is well versed on how the body produces melatonin when it is dark to use that to her advantage.

One thing I do like that seems to be in concert with longer nights, besides higher production of melatonin, are the winter sunsets. This was taken with my new camera from my back deck. 

Still, as the winter solstice approaches, I begin to dread it more each year. Even though I know that mere seconds are taken away each day the closer it gets, I feel as if I will never get over its daunting hill because going back down it is just as painstakingly slow. Because of this, January is my least favorite month although I have tried not to label it for years because it was not always so.

When I lived in Ohio, January was the month it snowed the most and I love snow. Countless upon countless of tiny crystals can be so dazzling in the moonlight! When the trees are bare naked and covered in snow, I think of how God grace beautifies us as we stand exposed before Him.

When I lived in Florida, January was the month it was cooler without much blooming but mostly still green. Only a few trees lost their leaves and some only for about two weeks. To the northerners, it was warm enough to get a tan on the beach, but those of us used to warmer climates year around, it was just a short span of time to wear a few sweaters we kept on hand. I cannot say that I liked January there that much but, because it was warmer, I guess I did not mind it so much other than missing the Ohio winters with which I had grown up.

January in Georgia, however, is a different story. It is a wild weather month. It can be cool like Florida one day due to southern breezes and overpowered by a northeastern and covered with snow and/or ice the next. It is unpredictable, and weather always is, but there is something a bit different about this area when it comes to winter. That of itself is not why I dislike January here. It is the combination, lack of snow but still too cold to do much in very short daylight hours.

Yet, there is this certainty with January: the days are lengthening. The days are no longer getting  shorter (pun intended); they are getting longer. From the the first of January, it goes from just less than 10 hours from sunrise to sunset to 10½ and it continues to increase at a faster pace up to the spring equinox. At that point the days still lengthens but the pace slows.

Funny thing is that I disliked spring when I was younger. I liked seeing the blooms but the mud would get to me. The combination of melting snow and hard rains would just get me down. Having lived near farming communities with livestock and fields to be planted most of my childhood and with my aunt and her small horse ranch as a teenager, I can honestly say that I never liked muddy springs and almost all of them were. However, in Georgia, we see bright yellow daffodils often in the first weeks of February and somehow that heralds in spring for me. I just cannot wait to work in the gardens this year, now that our house has been resided and there will be no more workers trampling my plants. I lost so many last year, but this year I will work on them without that concern looming over me.

I cannot wait for those longer days!

My Lord, thank you for the seasons, the ones I love and the ones that I do not. Thank you for Your Light that shines on us all the time. Help me to see it more when I in the long periods of darkness.

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.