ANN BAILEY: Longer days signal winter is on the waneI’m pretty sure that the winter of 2011-2012 is one I will be telling my grandchildren about someday. I can’t recall enjoying a warmer one with fewer driving hassles than this one, and I’m not counting on experiencing another one like it again.
I’m pretty sure that the winter of 2011-2012 is one I will be telling my grandchildren about someday. I can’t recall enjoying a warmer one with fewer driving hassles than this one, and I’m not counting on experiencing another one like it again.
But while I have no complaints about the lack of snow and mild temperatures, I have found the unusual weather a little disorienting. I am used to relating the weather with the month. For example, July is supposed to be hot with at least one severe thunderstorm and January should be cold and have a or two blizzard that results in a day off of school.
This year, there not only have been no storm days, school hasn’t even had to start late because of bad weather. The few times winter storm watches were posted, the storms petered out or veered off another direction before they hit.
Because the weather has been so pleasant, it’s hard for me to believe the calendar already reads it’s Jan. 29 today. It seems like it still should be late November. Not only does the weather feel like November, the landscape resembles it. I’m used to driving down the highway past white ditches and fields covered by a few feet of snow, not brown grass and black dirt.
In past years, during more typical North Dakota winters, I look forward to the first day of winter, knowing that the days will begin to lengthen. Then after Dec. 21, I keep a pretty close eye on the length of the day and cheer. Even though as the saying goes, “when the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen,” the longer days are cause for celebration.
This winter, I didn’t think about the day length much until it hit me last week that it was still light out during my drive home from work. Then I realized that it had been more than a month since the shortest day of the year. A check of an Internet sunrise-sunset chart showed that today the day length is nine hours and 21 minutes. A month ago the day length was eight hours 25 minutes, which means that we’ve gained nearly an hour of day light since then. And speaking of this month’s similarity to November, the last time the day length was the same as it is now, was Nov. 14.
The longer days confirm that winter is on the downside. And even though this has been a good one, I am looking forward to green grass and growing things.
Even if the weather turns colder and snowier than normal, it can’t stay that way for long. February begins on Wednesday, and in 28 short days after that, it’s March. I know March weather can be nasty, (I remember well the three-day blizzard of ‘66), but by then I know spring is right around the corner so it seems easier to weather.
As January winds down, I’m not only thankful for the atypical winter, but also for the longer days. I may have failed to be aware of them for a while, but I am appreciating them to the fullest now. I like seeing the sun rise through my farmhouse windows and pulling into my driveway when there’s still a little light in the western sky. I know that light will brighten my days throughout the rest of the winter no matter what the weather is like.