Long Spring Days

It’s 7:30pm as I write this and, though there is a dusky greyness to the light, it is far from dark. I like this time of year. I like the sudden leap forward that extends the daylight. One of the things I loved about living in St Andrews was the summer months when I could be awake at 4am and see the sunrise. There is something comforting about knowing the nights are shorter. It probably goes back to some in-built evolutionary thing. Night is when the creatures come out, it is a time to be afraid and stay indoors. I know plenty of people who feel quite the opposite, who like the dark and being out at night. For me night is a time to be inside with a warm drink and the glow of electric lights.

I am reminded of a quote I read once in an anthology of women travel writers:

A lump rose in my throat as I watched them drift off fearlessly and with such hope into the great unknown, and contrasted them with all the people living at home who, despite their comforts, are full of grouches and aspirin.

The quote is from Nine Pounds of Luggage by Maud Parrish. Parrish (1878-1976) left her husband in San Francisco to seek a life of freedom in Alaska: Oh, it was grand to be free and think up your own line. And up there I wasn’t thought wild and headstrong and naughty. At one point she gets restless and tired of Dawson and decides to take the two thousand mile journey along the Yukon River to Nome. Just beyond the Arctic Circle two prospectors and a small boat of supplies are lowered overboard and Parrish watches as they set off to spend a year alone in the Arctic. This is the context for the above quote and although Parrish doesn’t say whether it is day or night when the prospectors set off as I read it I imagined it was night.

As I write this the day has all but gone, it is now just a faint hint behind the sillhouetted trees and rooftops. The houses that surround on three sides the fields over which my own house looks are pouring warm electric light out in to the dark. I think of those prospectors and of the point Parrish makes; no amount of light, no amount of comfort can compare to the hope-filled adventurer. Perhaps I ought to start exploring the dark more, but for now I will enjoy the long spring days.

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