Only 13 days since solstice but already I can see the difference in the later time of sunset. Although the winter solstice is the longest night and the shortest day overall, the earliest sunset in my area runs from Dec. 4-10, when it happens at 4:41 p.m. Now, in early January, sunset is already at 4:54 p.m. , an improvement of 13 minutes. The overall length of the day itself has grown by just 4 minutes since solstice, because the sunrise time continues to lose a minute or two and won’t start to gain on that side of the day until January 11.
I notice the evening improvement because it’s no longer pitch dark when I get home in the evenings. Last night it was still light enough to see that my chickens had safely returned to their pen for the night, without needing to shine a light into the pen to check that they were there. It’s a small improvement but a welcome one. A couple of times when I didn’t have a light handy, I practically had to climb into the pen to check for them. I really prefer when I don’t have to do that.
It also means I can see what the local deer have been up to when I get home. Last evening one of them was chomping on my juniper bush as I turned into the driveway, and I came as close to hitting her as I’ve come to hitting any deer in a long time. I didn’t see her until she bolted, and it’s a good thing that happened to be in a section of the drive that wasn’t ice-covered or I wouldn’t have been able to stop. She seemed largely unconcerned about her near miss and was soon chomping on another bush not 20 feet away, oblivious to hearing me talking to the chickens as I put them to bed for the night.
I suppose you can say I’m settling into my winter mode of life at the cabin again. I enjoy the routine, so different from summer’s long days and its hot temperatures. Winter has a way of focusing my attention. Daylight is short, and chores and errands both need to be accomplished without distraction. In summer, there always seems to be enough time to put off some chore until “later.” In winter, putting something off means fumbling in the dark or waiting until the next day. I’m relearning, again, not to put things off. I just hope I can learn to keep doing that even after winter is over!