Every Christmas I feel as if I've struggled to the top of an unforgiving hill on my bike and I'm about to start freewheeling down the other side. I go to the US Navy website (See Links on right) and I download sunrise and sunset tables for the year so that I can cheer myself up by seeing how much lighter it's going to be day by day. It happens slowly at first - hardly any change until the beginning of January, but then an extra minute morning and evening, and by the middle of February five whole minutes every day! No matter how grey and dismal the weather becomes in January and February I can reassure myself that Spring really is on the way.
The landscape remains stubbornly monochrome, and even the green on the fields of winter wheat and barley is only a greenish tinge on the brown, but under the apple trees the spikes of daffodils and bluebells are poking through the grass.