The sun a spark

The sun was so striking on this twilight evening in March 2013, I walked back to the house to get my camera.

The sun was so striking on this late afternoon walk in March 2013,
I just had to go all the way back to the house to get my camera.

“The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.” — John Updike

One thing I like about this time of year is the gradual lengthening of daylight hours.  It still turns dark far too early, several weeks away from the onset of Daylight Savings Time.  But I know that each day we will have a bit more light, and that’s something I find energizing and motivating.

It sounds trite, but spring really will be here before we know it.  What ideas for this year are hatching inside your imagination?  What will you do with that first delicious touch of warm weather?  Planning for it is half the fun!

One year ago today

Happy New Year!


  1. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. I love the photo and how you’ve captured a winter day. I can only hope that first warm, early spring day comes on a weekend, for obvious reasons. I doubt my “boss” will buy into the SPRING FEVER excuse. Even worse, what if he plans the same illness? 🙂 Bill and I just discussed, while being in the mountains, that dusk seems longer at the higher elevations. We kept a log years ago to compare sunrise and sunset time difference between Garden City, SC and Bristol, TN. I smile when I remember whoses idea that was! I hope and pray this new round of treatment for Jeff goes well. I think of y’all so often. Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, I wish you a lovely warm weekend soon! I didn’t realize that dusk would be longer in the mountains, but it makes sense. I imagine there typically are trees to obscure some of the light, so there wouldn’t be as much difference when the sun went down. It was such a stark contrast coming to Virginia from California, where the skies are huge and open; after seeing the dense forests here (which I love) I realized one reason California seems so sunny is there is very little to block the sunlight. Sunset at the beach is so dazzling, for the same reason. In Captiva last January it seemed that it stayed brighter for a long time. Still, none of that could explain actual differences in sunrise and sunset times. I wonder if Eric has noticed the same thing since he and Sherry moved to the mountains? I think dusk is such a magical time. You may remember I blogged about it last year. I am thinking of you too, and hope you are able to settle back into whatever feels like “normal” for you both. Thanks for being here!

      • Yes, Sheila is correct – attributing the phenomenon to the mountains, themselves. It’s fun to experience 3 or four sunsets in a single evening (driving on a mountain road among the sharper peaks). Trees add a little, but the effect was much the same in the Santa Catalina Mountains of Arizona. Striking photo, by the way.

        • Thanks Eric, I’ve had very little experience with spending time in mountain settings, though the idea is enormously appealing. Reading about your driving around to see several in a single evening reminds me of The Little Prince and his visit to the planet of many sunsets! I appreciate your kind words about the photo – as usual, it cannot begin to capture the strange beauty of that sky, but I had to give it a shot. It’s amazing to me what an ever-changing canvas the sky is. As a kid I used to be easily absorbed in watching how quickly the clouds would change shapes and forms.

  2. Enjoy the spring! Here we are getting ready to prepare ourselves for the horrible summer. But still, there is something beautiful about it. I can’t stand this cold, no, cool weather any more. 🙂

    • Bindu, I agree – I don’t like heat, but I prefer heat to very cold climates. As you say though, all the seasonal changes — even the extreme ones — do have their own unique beauty.

      • The “canvas of the sky” accounts for much of the fascination with flying you have blogged about. A professional pilot often watches a beautiful sunset, looking across the aerodrome; then takes off and climbs to a cruise altitude where he watches the sun set again. If the average person experiences say 30,000 sunsets during his lifetime, a “night flyer” could possibly add another 5 % (maybe 1500 additional sunsets).

        • This would explain how St. Exupery (a pilot) could write about the planet of many sunsets in The Little Prince! The Prince’s sadness for the lamplighter’s relentless existence was tempered by his knowledge that his planet was blessed with 1440 sunsets every day!

  3. Camping – I can’t wait for that first weekend in the tent. I want it to come just a little before it’s warm enough to be comfortable, when you have to bundle up at night and your cheeks still feel frosty.

    • Sounds great to me – do I smell Smores on the fire? 🙂 And maybe some hot cocoa spiked with coffee! And best of all, NO BUGS.

      • I forgot about that – no bugs! Definitely s’mores. And margaritas when the kids fall asleep.

        • Just be sure they’re not faking it – they might be hatching plans for when the adults are asleep! 🙂

          • Usually I fall asleep before they do anyway! #wishfulthinking

            • Hee-hee, I can SO identify!! 🙂 #57andcounting

  4. beautiful sunset!! even if its a cool one! I’m a warm weather person…a little cold goes a long way with me!:)

    • Merry, that’s one more thing we have in common. I’m sitting here with my space heater running to keep me toasty warm! They say we may get another big snow again this week…

  5. Jenelle

    Whoa. That picture is eerie yet strikingly beautiful. Ooo, the stories about what happens beneath those branches has my writers mind going wild with ideas. Thank you for going back for your camera! After spending ALL of last week cooped up in the house (the stomach flu ran ramped through the entire family) I am bursting with excitement about warmer weather. I have a craving to sit on the hood of my car and stare at the night sky like I did back in college. I have a fascination with the brilliant white lights against the black canvass. So when the weather allows, I want to drive to the country and sit on my car and stare. A nice warm coffee spiked cocoa wouldn’t hurt 😉

    • Jenelle, that sounds great to me. One thing I miss is being able to see lots of stars. I am hardly ever in a place where I can see many of them at night, I guess because of the street lights. When I was in Girl Scouts we went stargazing out on a dock over the water and it was amazing! I’ve never seen more stars before or since. I just hate it when everyone in the house gets sick – hope you and your family are feeling better now! Send me your stories about what happens under those eerie trees!

  6. Yes, the days are getting longer. Here in San Diego, the sun sets one minute later each day. Pretty soon, though, the days will start getting shorter, and then Christmas will be right around the corner!……….lol

    • You know, that’s almost too true to be funny! We were late getting the Christmas trees down this year because Jeff didn’t get out of the hospital until right before Christmas, so we put it up AND took it down later than ever before – I was just telling him that now it’s going to seem like hardly any time at all before we are dragging them out again! One minute later each day sounds pretty good to me. Since I often walk in the late afternoon, I look forward to being able to stay out later without getting caught in the dark. In a month I’ll have another half hour, assuming it’s a similar difference in Virginia.

  7. That’s a neat photo Julia, lucky you to catch it that day too. It’s hard to think about spring just yet here because it’s been really, really cold for a few days. I think the first think I need to do when it starts to warm up is empty my winter pots….they are so dead LOL

    • Jeff and I were just saying that we probably need to re-pot EVERYTHING – we are really bad about not doing that as often as we should. Some of the bigger houseplants are such a pain to re-pot, they are so heavy to drag outside in those enormous pots. When does it start to get warm in Edmonton? Do your daffodils and crocus start to sprout even in the cold? Jeff said our daffodils are already coming up.

      • That sounds like a big job. I actually don’t have a single houseplants because of the naughty kitties. The winter pots are outside on the steps. I fill them with spruce and pine etc and decorate for Christmas. But we had some mild weather here while were in Maui. They thawed but didn’t get any water. They’re all very brown now. Not super pretty, LOL

        It really doesn’t warm up till mid or late April. March is still winter here. Nothing really blooms till the beginning of June, Depending on the overnight lows, I would usually fill my deck pots or hanging baskets the first week of June. Lilacs and Peonies come on by mid to end of June. I’m sure you’re well ahead of that, lucky you! 😀

        • Yes, I usually start bringing stuff outside in mid to late March. The old saying around here is “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb,” but sometimes it seems to do just the opposite – we’ll get a streak of really warm weather and think we’re home free, then BOOM, it will get totally cold again. So I’ve learned not to get too eager to put stuff out. It makes me smile to think of your kitties getting into the houseplants. One time I read that used tea bags were good to plant in the soil of potted plants (I have no idea whether that’s true) and I buried some in a few of my plants. The next thing I know, Pasha had dug them all out and I caught him just in time before he ate them. It amazed me that he could still smell them after I buried them that deep. He LOVED tea bags and I once had to call the doggie poison control because he had gotten into my trash and eaten four of them! They gave me instructions how to make them come back up (yuk!) because they said a dog that small could have dangerous heart issues from the caffeine. Even so, something about dogs and cats digging into things always makes me smile. It’s a nuisance, but a cute one. Curiosity is appealing to me.

          • That’s good to know, thanks for the tip. I’m glad he was ok but yes, yuk. These two have ate so many Basil plants I gave up. I tried to keep it in the bathroom on the main floor but there’s no light in there and it confused company..LOL. What we don’t do for our pets 😀

            • But they are so worth it, aren’t they? They probably say the same thing to each other about us! 😀

  8. Hello Julia. I too am watching the days lengthening & welcoming the signs of coming spring – even in amongst our continuing gales & rain. I don’t really have any plans. I’m just looking forward to more enjoyable dog walks!

    • Hi, it’s great to hear from you. I haven’t been able to access your blog today, but I hope I can look forward to more “virtual dog walks” with you as the weather gets warmer. I still walk most every day, but as you know, it’s not quite the same without our canine friends. I always stop and visit with the dogs I pass. Many of my neighbors remember Pasha and understand that I need a little “doggie time.” Hope you have a lovely spring ahead of you soon!

  9. raynard

    Julia that picture reminds me of waking up in “the middle of the sticks” as we said in the army, either in Germany or Ft Dix. Most other places were”desert “(guess that story about”@ the end of the month if it’s a full moon( most hospital emergency rooms are full) be blessed

    • Raynard, that photo does look like it’s the middle of nowhere, but it’s actually our neighborhood which is pretty densely populated. I have always read that crimes, accidents and other such things go up during the full moon. I don’t know if people do really get a little wild then (hence the term “lunatic”) or if it’s just that there is more light outside so people can stay out too late! Hope you are doing well and don’t get hit with too much snow this week. They are predicting it will get really bad here.

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