Finally, We’re On The Way Back

The Shortest DayLast Saturday was the shortest day of the year here in the UK and strangely, some may say, it’s my favourite day of the year. Why, I can hear you asking, isn’t the longest day of the year more favoured, all those lovely hours of daylight, and often sunshine too? Well it’s because today marks the nadir of the year in terms of daylight. From now on we get an extra minute or so more light each day, and that’s something to look forward to.

Daisaku Ikeda has some very wise words for these long dark days, and offers a welcome ray of hope …

“Even if today may seem to be a time of total darkness, it will not last forever. The dawn will surely come if you advance, ever forward, without being defeated.

The day will definitely come when you can look back fondly and declare, “I am savouring this happiness because I struggled back then.” It is those who know the bitterness of winter that can savour the true joy of spring.”

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Shorter Days

Lighting The WayCycling to and from work is doing me a power of good, though I am beginning to wonder just how much longer I can do it before the ever darker mornings force me to change my route, or invest in some serious lights.

This morning, although sunrise was officially 5 minutes before I set off, it was still quite gloomy and there was also a light sea mist, so it was blinking lights front and rear, all the way to the office.

Whilst the current lights do a very fine job of signalling my presence to other cyclists and road users, the front light won’t provide sufficient illumination to ride safely up the Castleman Trailway, the beautiful tunnel of trees that takes me from Creekmore, all the way to the top of Gravel Hill.

Even the cycle path alongside the A31 has its fair share of interesting challenges. Tree roots, raised manhole covers, lumps, bumps and wonky kerbs all serve to keep the riders attention, even though it is a great deal safer than jousting with the traffic. In daylight, they are inconsequential, but in the deepening gloom, they could present a problem.

So do I succumb to the shortening days, put the bike away until next spring, or make the necessary purchase to allow me to continue? The Dark Passenger, my fundamental darkness, is telling me that it will soon be much colder, wetter, that the car would be so much more comfortable. He’s right, of course he is, but I am determined to stay fit and not reverse any of my hard-earned weight loss, so where’s that Wiggle website?

Is It Finally Here?

Spring LambsDespite the recent gloomy weather it is so heart warming to see the green shoots of Spring finally starting to appear. It was beautiful in Ringwood yesterday, temperatures of over 20°C and lovely warm sunshine. And not before time, farmers all around the country are warning of late starts to their crops, with the ground temperature being kept low by the cold east winds.

Of course, in Buddhist terms, Spring is the first chapter in the year’s Wheel of Life. The reincarnation of nature, following the apparent demise of trees, flowers and shrubs over the Winter months.

As sure as day will follow night and Spring will follow Winter, our rebirth follows the death of our earthly bodies. Exactly the same way that plants use Winter to build their reserves for the Spring, we use death to recharge our souls ready for rebirth.

It is a time of lengthening days, warmer sunshine and the emergence of banks of daffodils  and other Spring flowers. With the recent change to British Summer Time, we can but hope for a better summer than last year and to being able to make the most of the nice long evenings again.

The Wheel of Life continues to turn, today, tomorrow and for Eternity.

Little Signs

Ringwood Sunset - Click to see the full size imageOn a day where there has been rather less than usual to get excited about, the end of the day brought a beautiful surprise. A gorgeous sunset, across the watery floodplain, gave us all a little boost as we packed up and headed for home.

The other little sign, although the weather has certainly taken a turn towards the chilly end of the thermometer, was that there was definite daylight peeking over the line of trees as I made my way to my car tonight.

Just knowing that the days are getting longer puts a smile on my face. The promise, though it certainly doesn’t include any written money-back guarantees, that the warmer, drier weather is on its way, is enough to put a spring in anyone’s step.

As with any progression towards a better situation, the little steps are almost too small to measure. But when you add them all up, take a look back from the position you now hold, the delight in the progress is palpable.

And the photo is just another drop of joy for my friend MidniteRainbow.

Dying Embers

The Dying Embers Of AutumnWith winter creeping ever closer, it has been great to have a couple of days, particularly at the weekend, where the sun shines and the temperatures are a little higher than they normally are at this time of year.

Taking the opportunity to get out in the sunshine, for the second time in two days, has been great. There’s always the temptation, as the days get shorter, to wrap up warm, make a nice bowl of soup and hunker down in the comfort of home, shutting out the wind and weather.

So it is a little ray of happiness when the weather and the weekend conspire to coincide and allow us that opportunity, to give us just a glimpse of the dying embers of autumn, before closing the curtains of winter on the rest of the year.

The First Tiny Signs

TwilightI have to admit that winter is not my favourite time of year. I don’t like getting up in the dark or going home in the dark, it feels, at some primeval level, rather unnatural. Maybe the caveman in me still yearns to be guided by the sun, waking when it shines, sleeping when it’s dark.

So you can imagine the delight I felt this evening, when for the first time this year, there was still a glimmer of light peeping over the horizon as I left the office. I can’t say that it was still light, certainly too dark to drive without headlights, but it wasn’t totally dark, and in my book, that’s progress.

The year is a big wheel. It never stops turning, but sometimes we don’t notice the tiny changes that happen each and every day. Today was not one of those days, I noticed, and it is a clear sign that the wheel is rolling on.

The wheel of life is a much bigger wheel, it never stops turning either, but make sure you keep your eyes open for those first tiny, almost imperceptible signs, that are there when you take the time to stop and look.

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