So here we are at the turning of the year, the mistletoe has been cut in various places, Druids have been out and about at Stonehenge, and soon the days will start that slow process of getting longer again, at least round here.
I realise that the impact of the wheel of the year is bound to vary depending on how far you are from the equator. I struggle to imagine living closer to the arctic circles, with the long night of winter and the long day of summer. I rather suspect that would drive me nuts, but evidently plenty of people manage to live with it. I find it equally hard to imagine the stable nature of light and dark nearer the equator. I‘m too involved with the cycle I was born into.
The balance of light and dark across the year, and the shape of the seasons is closely tied to the land we live on – or at least where that land is in relation to the shape of the planet, its tides and climates. Here in the UK, the Gulf Stream keeps us warmer than neighbours to the east at the same latitudes. Where Tom came from a lot of weather tended to come down from the Arctic over the winter months, making for a very different kind of winter. I’m conscious of the warming effect of the River Severn too, not needing to get that far away to notice a temperature difference.
The shape of the hills affects the patterns of light and dark too. For me, down by the river, the coming of first light and the timing of the sunrise is affected by the Cotswolds. The sun has a great big hill line to get over before I’ll see any sign of it. It sets over the Forest of Dean for me, too, that’s another hefty hill range. For a person living in the shadow of even bigger hills, or mountains the patterns of light and dark will be even more influenced by this, and living on an open plain is a whole other experience.
It makes me realise just how local the experience of the shortest day is bound to be, because it’s going to be a lot shorter for those of us with hills, and all those other variables.
Today I am celebrating being where I am, wet and grey though it is. It’s not like anywhere else. Nowhere is.