Determination and hope


I always feel that there is hope now that we have gone past the winter solstice. Until this week the daylight hours have been getting shorter and shorter by the minute, but that is all over. We have turned a corner, now that the darkest day has gone, and we are working towards shorter nights and longer days. It is only little by little, but on 21st December the solstice sun set here in the afternoon at 15.38, by the end of the week the sun sets at 16.01.

It’s not much, but it’s a start. I remember my grandmother saying that after the winter solstice the day was a cockerel stride longer each week. Three minutes seems about right for the stride of a cockerel.

I have made two marks on the grey slate of our sunroom floor. They show where the sun reaches on the summer and winter solstices. On the shortest day, the sun is low and can almost touch the far wall. But it will never get there because, from now on, it will be getting higher in the sky. And, by the summer, the sunshine will be at the mark near the door – difficult to believe now but it will happen, it always does. The heavens are ruled by forces that are not affected by pandemics or other such disasters on earth.

The robin on my bird table responds to the length of the day. He is still defending his territory and fights off any other robin for now. When I go out to the washing line (sometimes at dusk because I have forgotten to bring the clothes in) I can hear him singing a weak little song from the holly bush. Soon there will be two robins and then I will know that he has paired up and will be getting ready for nesting. They are early nesters. His red breast always cheers on dull days.

One of my Amaryllis flowers is red too. This year, during lockdown, I sent for a plant from a garden centre, on the internet. It came about two months ago and I planted it but I am still waiting. No wonder the box said that it was called ‘Day Dream’!

I have another Amaryllis, but this one is special because the bulb was left on our outside table, as a gift, about six weeks ago. It was in a box, complete with compost and a pot. I planted it straight away and now its flower is opening. Petal by petal it is revealing a robin red flower full of flamboyance and beauty. The Amaryllis is from Africa and the name has lots of meanings but two stand out for me.

One meaning of this flower is ‘determination’ and the other is ‘hope’.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


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