This morning I woke up at 7:00 am and was surprised to see light leaking through the blinds into the dark bedroom. I immediately thought it must have snowed last night, but no: it was the returning sun.
I immediately leapt out of bed (not a common occurrence in these gray, cold gloomy days) and went out to the front picture window. I pulled the blinds and saw a beautiful sunrise starting to emerge out of the southeast sky. We've not seen one of those, either, for many long cold days.
Last night I also noticed the longer light. My friend Roderick had led a beautiful Native ceremony to honor our dead Ancestors. This ceremony was held near Spurgeon Creek, deep in south Thurston County. I was not looking forward to driving home in the dark, but at 5:15 pm, the light held. It felt like the Ancestors kept the country roads well-lit and I found my way home safe and sound.
So this morning, I went outside in my jammies to take this picture, foolishly expecting it would be as warm as it looked. It wasn't: 19 degrees. Yowie. The Anna's Hummingbird that has a night roost in the rhododendrons near the feeding stations started chittering at me. She thinks she owns the yard and it is the faeries that bring her the fresh sugar water. We are merely intruders on her world. I took the hint (from the Annas and also the cold) and quickly returned inside.
Biologists talk about this time as a time of lengthening photoperiod. The light returning the sky, the lengthening days, are known to play a key role in the lives of many animals, including humans.
I am most familiar with it for birds. This is the time I expect to hear the song of the Winter Wren, wafting out of the woodlands. He (the males are the ones who sing) finds a stump in the woods, with good acoustics bouncing off nearby tree trunks, opens his bill and lets fly with the most glorious singing. For him, this is a song that is about establishing territory, and perhaps attracting a mate. To this human who is listening, it is a song of returning light, of hope and possibility, of believing that the dark times are retreating, and a warmer, sunnier time is to come.
Photo by Suneko from Flickr.com creativecommons
"Bird Songs of the Puget Sound and Washington State" a CD by Martyn Stewart