As the winter solstice passes and the days begin to get slightly longer, the importance and the wonder of light becomes more and more apparent.
Just as the moon controls the tide and other life rhythms the daylight length is tightly intertwined with growth, nature and the cycle of life.
At Christmas or Yule we celebrate the return of the sun with our fairy lights, our candles and our decorations. But when the new year starts the dark days are still prevalent, shadowing our lives as we strive to make resolutions and plans for the year ahead.
Shining a torch into darkness is a powerful way to remind us of the power of the light. In the same way the rays of the sun and the clear winter light holds great power at this time of year, illuminating our gardens, our lives and nature with healing beams of light.
Have you noticed the slight change in the setting of the sun already this year? The sun sets a few minutes later each day. I notice that more than the earlier sunrise, but together they build the day length, warming our souls with the power of the light. Even 2 extra minutes each day becomes an hour of more light each day, by the end of the month. And as we hurtle towards spring, the extra light becomes more and more apparent. It lifts our spirits and feeds our soul.
Sunlight drives our vitamin D levels, likely low in the winter months, so every burst of sunshine is a chance to recharge our batteries in so many different ways. It’s a chance to bathe in the winter light, to reconnect with nature and to stop and listen and admire and notice the changes in our gardens.
The sun warms our world, it powers most lifecycles. Plants use its energy to make food and grow via a process we call photosynthesis. It’s a truly magical ‘chemical reaction’ that we seem to take for granted, strange as we seek to reduce carbon footprints and plants are very much a powerhouse of this objective.
The weeks and weeks of persistent rain, not to mention the flooding and dark, cloudy days have taken their toll. We are ready for spring, and yet we’ve barely had a winter. That may be yet to come. In the meantime, it’s a great reminder to cherish the winter flowers, bask in the winter light and welcome the fresh shoots of snowdrops as they push their way from the dark into the light.
Spare a thought for our garden birds and other wildlife, eeeking out an existence, many need to find food in daylight hours, their lifecycles and breeding patterns are controlled by daylight length. Some are hibernating, others are uncharacteristically active in the warmer temperatures when they should be hunkered down for winter and the rest are searching for food to sustain them through the winter. Natural food in the garden can support them, as can supplementary feeding. Both are routes to getting us out into the garden a little more each week. Planting berry bearing trees and shrubs, as well as those that form fruit, nut and seeds is a great excuse to go out gardening and to bathe under the clear, bright winter light on dry days.
Embarking on a regular feeding regime to cater for the needs of our wild birds is another activity that gets us out into the light appreciating the changes in the seasons. Couple that with moments of bird watching, the most powerful act of mindfulness for all ages that can be accessed indoors and out and these small changes can make a big difference in so many ways. Caring for our wild pets, observing the antics of the garden birds and watching the seasonal changes are all positive actions. The sum of these added together is far more powerful than the individual actions and each one benefits us more than we can ever know.
Planting is a hopeful activity. Nurturing nature is a positive action. These simple activities lift our spirits and get us out into the garden and under the beams of sunlight that season the winter world.
Light is literally life. Embrace it at every opportunity.